Trot on, Hoptown: Turkey Trot offers the best of traditions

There are many reasons to appreciate Hopkinsville's annual Turkey Trot, writes Hoptown Chronicle editor Jennifer P. Brown.

One of Hopkinsville’s best traditions, the 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, will mark its 20th anniversary this year. 

Started by the Pennyrile Rail Trail Foundation to raise money and awareness for a recreational path along the U.S. Army’s old rail spur through the city, the Turkey Trot has become one of the community’s most popular events.

I like and appreciate the Turkey Trot for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it doesn’t require much advance planning or commitment of the participants. You put on warm clothing and comfortable shoes and head downtown to wait for the big start at 8 a.m with hundreds of other trotters on Main Street.

Secondly, the Turkey Trot feels like a homecoming. Every year that I’ve been, I have seen people I hadn’t seen in years. They are in town to spend Thanksgiving with family, and many of them come to the Turkey Trot with their children and grandchildren. I’ve pushed grandchildren in strollers a few times myself. Some of us walk. Some run or ride bikes. Everyone talks about the meal waiting at home and their plans for the day. 

I don’t think I could love Hopkinsville more than I have on those occasions walking up Main Street on Thanksgiving morning, seeing hundreds of people all headed in the same direction through the city’s oldest residential neighborhood. Surely this tradition will never end. 

The original purpose of the Turkey Trot, to push for the creation of a rail-trail, was realized in 2013 when the city completed Phase I of the Hopkinsville Greenway. It runs 3.15 miles from the old river trail near North Drive up to Pardue Lane. Phase II, the 1.7-mile stretch from Pardue Lane to Foston Chapel Road, was completed just before Thanksgiving last year

But because of coronavirus restrictions on big gatherings, we had to settle for an independent sort of Turkey Trot in 2020. The city suggested two routes and asked everyone to walk or run at their chosen time. 

Last year my husband and I spent our first (and I hope last) Thanksgiving home alone, but we did get out on the new section of rail-trail that morning and saw a few dozen people we knew. For me, it sort of saved the day to see so many people out observing a tradition the best way we could. 

If you’re planning to join the trotters Thursday morning, here’s all the information you need to know from Hopkinsville Parks and Recreation. They have a special T-shirt for Turkey Trot 2021, but supplies are limited so don’t delay if you want one. 

I’ll be shooting photos of the trotters this year, and I hope to see you there. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

More coverage of Thanksgiving 2021

Getting into the spirit: “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” will air at 6:30 p.m. tonight on PBS and PBS Kids stations.

Lighten your load: We’ve compiled a list of Hopkinsville restaurants that are offering takeout and dine-in options on Turkey Day.

If you are cooking: A local, grassroots ministry is preparing Thanksgiving meals for 400 people and needs help from local home cooks willing to prepare extra vegetable dishes.

Giving Tuesday: Make this Giving Tuesday a #GivingNewsDay with a contribution to Hoptown Chronicle. Thanks to News Match, your donation will be doubled.

Christmas decorating: Put your best foot forward as you break out the ladder and lights. One Hopkinsville business and 12 homes will receive awards from the city for their holiday decorating.

  • Know someone with “a ton of holiday spirit?” Consider nominating them to be Hopkinsville’s honorary Christmas tree-lighter.
Trot on, Hoptown: Turkey Trot offers the best of traditions

Jennifer P. Brown

Jennifer P. Brown is the founder and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at