The savory aroma of smoked turkey has been in the air all week at North Hall High School.
Although Thanksgiving is still a few days away, students in the Future Farmers of America club have been busy smoking 300 Butterball turkeys since Monday. The turkey smoke-out is an annual North Hall FFA fundraiser that has been going on for at least 15 years, said the school’s FFA adviser John Sutton.
The 80 club members sold $25 tickets for the turkeys, but about a dozen turkeys will go to needy families and to the Good News at Noon homeless shelter in Gainesville.
Proceeds finance the FFA banquet for student awards in the spring as well as FFA competition fees.
Sutton said the turkeys are smoked for about 10 hours on wood planks.
"Everything’s natural. We don’t add anything," he said. "They’re fully cooked and ready to eat. It makes Thanksgiving dinner a little easier."
Sutton said some gobble up the turkeys for Thanksgiving while others store them in the freezer for Christmas dinner.
Cody Savage, president of the North Hall FFA, said it is fun to sell turkey tickets at the grocery store and hear former FFA members’ memories.
Savage said the club has regular customers.
"They keep coming back," he said. "They say, ‘That was good. Save me another turkey for next year.’"
He said he tells people who aren’t familiar with FFA that the organization is about more than "cows and plows."
He said the FFA holds national and state competitions where students exercise their agricultural prowess as well as electrical and public speaking skills.