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‘They cook the best turkeys’

Deputies fry birds for public, donate to foster kids

Sheriff Turkey Fry

Daniel Price and Nicholas Fink fry a turkey during the annual Calhoun County Sheriff charity turkey fry. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

It feels good to help others, according to Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade, especially on Thanksgiving.

Which is why, Wade said, he was glad that Wednesday marked the Sheriff’s Office’s 15th annual Turkey Fry.

“We’re very quick to give a sharp word when something doesn’t go they way somebody thinks it should, but I think that the antidote to that is to go serve others,” Wade said. “Instead of being mad, it’ll make you really happy.”

On the morning of the Turkey Fry, deputies, sheriff’s office staff, volunteers and inmates were working behind the station.

Some were seasoning the uncooked turkeys that lined tables set up outside, while others were dipping the birds into vats filled with boiling peanut oil.

Jennifer Mickler, an evidence clerk with the Sheriff’s Office who was coordinating the activities outside, said the event was hectic but going well.

According to Mickler, the Sheriff’s Office planned to fry up to 250 turkeys by 4:30 p.m.

Some, she said, were donated by the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and would be donated to foster families with the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home.

Mickler said the Sheriff’s Office had tags for 125 turkeys submitted by locals and were taking them until 10 a.m.

She said the Sheriff’s Office asked for $15 donations, which would go toward buying Christmas presents for kids at the Baptist Children’s Home.

“We just wanted to do something nice for them,” Mickler said.

Wade said the donations were encouraged, but not required.

“If somebody says they don’t want to give a donation, they ain’t got to,” Wade said. “I have a lot of people come in and they’ll give more just because they want to ... But it’s not about money.”

Wade said the Sheriff’s Office’s Turkey Fry was his idea. He said he started it in 2005, during his first year as chief deputy.

He said he had smoked turkeys before for members of the local Fraternal Order of Police chapter, and wanted to expand on the idea.

He said he started the first year with one or two fryers and did the bulk of the work by himself.

Now, he said, the Turkey Fry boasts around 35 fryers, dozens of volunteers and increasing popularity in the community.

Wade said the Turkey Fry also started a Thanksgiving lunch for deputies and staff.

Jerry Glover, a social worker with Children’s Services at the Parris Home, said he was excited to treat the kids staying there to a fried turkey. 

“It’s an opportunity for them to taste something different because, most of the time, all they get is just a baked turkey,” Glover said. “Those taste good, but a fried turkey is a totally different ball game.”

He said he had considered bringing in two birds, but was confident that one would be able to feed everyone and leave leftovers.

While Glover was glad the kids were getting a special Thanksgiving meal, he said, it would be more special if they had families to share it with.

“Our children need caring adults and caring parents who are willing to tolerate the untolerable,” Glover said.

James Patterson, of Anniston, said fried turkeys are better than the traditional baked ones because they’re juicier and more flavorful.

“I like what they’re doing. It’s wonderful,” Patterson said of the Sheriff’s Office. “They cook the best turkeys.”

Contact Staff Writer Mia Kortright at 256-235-3563.