Growing up in Warren County, I remember attending Turkey Raffles with my parents in the 80's. I continue to attend with my husband every so often. Turkey Raffles are still going strong today as a source of Warren County entertainment and as fundraisers for several organizations. Did you know that you just might have went to jail for attending a Turkey Raffle 100 years ago in Warren County? Read on to hear the history of Turkey Raffles in Warren County! I have been told these are a popular Pennsylvania past time and that many Southerners have never heard of a "Turkey Party" or "Turkey Raffle". I'm not quite sure of where or when it all began. I did some research on Turkey Raffles in Warren County by searching through some old Warren County newspaper clippings. Turkey Raffles have evolved over the years. They primarily started in tap houses with live turkeys being raffled off near Thanksgiving. In 1894 they were described as being "all the go now" and being "largely attended" in the city of Warren in 1898. By 1909, they were deemed illegal in Warren and those that attended them were compared in the Warren Times Mirror to "ordinary drunks and mad motorists". Those that were caught attending a Turkey Party were warned that they would be fined, lose their turkey, and get their name in the newspaper due to gambling being illegal. In 1929, a warning was published in the Warren Times Mirror that stated "those who indulge in turkey raffles should beware lest they lay themselves open to arrest and punishment". Something must of changed in 1929. The Conewango Club proudly announced that they would have an Annual Turkey Party that was being met "with much enthusiasm by the younger social set". Perhaps it was legal as long as the proceeds went to a charity? After this time, Turkey Raffles continued to be a great source to raise funds for many different Warren County organizations as they still do today. They have evolved from raffling off live turkeys to raffling off frozen turkeys, hams, steaks, rifles, cash, steaks, furniture, toys, and so much more! The popularity of local Turkey Raffles has not diminished over the years. Turkey Raffles
will continue to be a source of entertainment in Warren County for generations to come and part of a pre-Thanksgiving tradition!