It takes a village to cook for a festival.
The annual Tremont Turkey Festival is in full swing. Vendors have set out their wares, the carnival is up and running, and, most notably, thick smoke can be seen from several blocks away rising from the festival grounds.
About 1,600 turkeys will be served for the festival this weekend. Workers tend to the smokers, checking the gauges, hosing them down, and loading and unloading turkey carcasses for the thousands of people who will descend upon the Tazewell County village for the festivities. It all happens under the watchful eyes of Grill Master Jack Moser, who has served as a cook at 45 of the festival's 49 years in existence.
While he's certainly dedicated a lot of time to the festival each year, Moser says he couldn't do it alone.
"Each turkey gets injected with barbecue sauce," he said. "We probably had 30 people here doing that. Then, on the site here cooking, we usually have 10 to 15."
Moser says he started working at the festival when it first started; not as a cook, but as a person who wanted to do some good.
"It felt like the right thing to do. We just wanted to buy a pool originally. I think we've raised enough by now," he laughed.
The fundraising spirit continues at the Turkey Festival, which now collects donations for a local food pantry. The festival runs through Sunday. You can find a list of events here.