Featured Stories

A big Saturday and a turkey suit


   It may not be as famous as Black Friday, or as convenient and hip as Cyber Monday, but Small Business Saturday is an excellent concept that, hopefully, finds a little retro-hip magic and fully joins the lexicon of the shopping mad post-Thanksgiving season.
   It can be just as important, if not more important, than its Friday or Monday competitors. Small Business Saturday hits on Nov. 24. Get ready for it, and think about how you can participate.
   Sure, Madras is far from a retail hotbed, but too many of us forget what we do have here: assorted hardware, super markets and small grocery stores, some outstanding restaurants, auto parts and ag products, furniture stores, art, computer wares, a ton of service industries with friendly and excellent providers, clothing and appliances large and small -- and more.
   We don't need to rush to Bend or Redmond, and their giant corporate stores, to buy any and all things. It's legal to shop small and locally.
   Small Business Saturday isn't just for small towns -- it aims to focus attention on mom and pops and other small operations throughout the country, no matter if they're wedged into a city amid the big corporations, or existing as part of a small town's limited retail offerings.
   For many of these smaller businesses, the holiday season is a key time for their annual survival. I doubt it's any fun for them to experience the start of the holiday season with their shelves stocked, but their floors empty of customers. But that doesn't stop the local tax bill from coming, or the letters of request for youth group donations.
   So, think about Small Business Saturday this year. After malling your way through Black Friday, and before you sit down at your computer on Cyber Monday to order those pants, consider doing some shopping the old school way -- with the actual businesses in your community, with the actual people and the stores our town depend upon.
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   I wonder if the long defunct Madras Sunrunners can get in on this?
   Over in Bend, the Boys & Girls Club and the Smith Rock Race Group are fighting over the rights to use the name Turkey Trot for their Thanksgiving holiday run.
   Back in that golden time (not really) when the '70s turned into the '80s, more than 30 years ago, George Wilson, one of the driving forces for the creation of the running local club -- much of its heart and a truckload of its soul -- started a run in Madras. It was to be held on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, when a good two-mile fun run (or a 10-K for those young and/or in shape) on a brisk morning was something everyone could use after days of gluttony.
   The event was named (insert trumpets here) the Turkey Trot. Big turkeys were given to the top male and female finishers, and tons of other prizes and ribbons were handed out.
   In college, back in those same early '80s, I took a broadcast journalism course, in which we had to tape an interview on cassette (remember those?). I was home for Thanksgiving, so I interviewed George about his Turkey Trot. When I gave my report to class, a young lady absolutely cracked up in hysterics over the reference to the Turkey Trot -- I assume connecting it with some wicked post-Thanksgiving form of diarrhea, though I wasn't sure and never asked.
   The last of the original local Turkey Trots was in 1985. In October of 1986, George Wilson died of cancer. That Thanksgiving weekend saw the first George Wilson Memorial Run, drawing by far the largest participation the holiday event had ever seen. The Wilson run was organized by my brother Dan for about two decades. Proceeds from the event have long funded the George Wilson Scholarship, to this day annually given to a local graduating senior who exemplified George's love of life.
   But now, with this lawsuit, the Turkey Trot is back in the news. And like that girl in Allen Hall at the University of Oregon, I have to laugh. Well, not exactly like her ... I'll keep it to a wide smile.
   But go ahead, Bend folks, go to court over the Turkey Trot name. But know that there are many aging runners, in mind or body, throughout Central Oregon, especially Jefferson County, who know the true origins of the region's Turkey Trot.
   Maybe a cool $10,000 or so to the George Wilson Scholarship Fund would keep a lawsuit at bay.