Jaycees turkey shoot returns to the fairgrounds

After a two-year break, the Raleigh Jaycees’ Turkey Shoot returns to the N.C. State Fair offering fairgoers an opportunity to win a t-shirt or a turkey voucher for their sharp-shooting skills or beginner’s luck winning shots.

“Lots of folks have been talking to us and are happy we are returning,” said Connor Brady, 2022 Turkey Shoot chair and president-elect for the Raleigh Jaycees. “The turkey shoot is a memory maker for many people who come to the fair. It’s a good experience for first-time shooters and a good experience for sharp shooters.”

A winning target!

Brady said the stories and memories people share with volunteers is part of what makes the annual fundraiser so special, including some who come to the fair every year to win their Thanksgiving turkey at the shoot.

The turkey shoot at the fair started in 1952 as a fundraiser to build the Jaycee Park in Raleigh. It has remained the group’s largest annual fundraiser, supporting membership development and community service in the area, including an annual Goodfellows program that provides Christmas to 60 kids.

As a nonprofit, the turkey shoot is staffed completely by volunteers, Brady said, including members of the Jaycees, along with the support of several community organizations. This group plans, builds and staffs the turkey shoot during the fair’s 11-day run, which is a big undertaking. One day is dedicated to what Brady calls Hay Day, when the volunteers assemble the shooting lanes by stacking 450 bales of hay.

Another happy winner! Copyright: © 2019 Justin Kase Conder Usage with express permission only.

For $5, 12 fairgoers at a time have the opportunity to shoot a 20-gauge shotgun at a target 50 feet away. The closest shot to the center of the target’s cross hairs is the winner. Brady estimates that around 15,000 people will come through the turkey shoot during the fair.

While the process seems simple enough, a few members of the State Fair Press Office tackled the turkey shoot challenge a few years back with very mixed results. One in the group (not me), did indeed win a t-shirt with a target full of buckshot holes, but the other two target cards (including mine) held few if any holes. We laugh and decided we certainly didn’t have beginner’s luck in the Press Office that day!

Brady said its fun to see people who have never shot a gun before try their hand at the turkey shoot and win against experienced shooters. It does happen, he said.

As noted, Merrie Go Round, on the right, and Fun House, on the left, did not have beginner’s luck. Candy Apple was the sharp shooter that night.

Check out the Jaycees Turkey Shoot, open daily beginning at 10 a.m. near the Agri Supply Expo Center. It is regarded as the longest running game on the fairgrounds, operating for 68 years prior to the pandemic.

For more information about the Raleigh Jaycees, visit www.raleighjaycees.org.

About Merrie Go Round

Merrie Go Round is the midway alter-ego of Andrea Ashby, who has officially spent 252 days during the past 24 years at the N.C. State Fair. That's perfect attendance in case you were wondering. In addition to promoting the Fair, looking for untold Fair stories and working on various special events, I also spend a great deal of time roaming the grounds taking photos for the Website and State Fair publications. I like to keep my eyes and ears posted for the unusual and different things that make the State Fair such a great celebration of North Carolina people, traditions and history. I look forward to sharing with you the things I come across on my journey.

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