TREMONT, Ill. (WMBD) – Tremont’s Turkey Festival is making the village a stronger community.

Tremont’s annual Turkey Festival has been a staple of the Village since 1966.

“We always say summer starts with us here in Tremont, and it really does,” said Lisa Scott, publicity chairman for the Tremont Turkey Festival.

Originally, the Turkey Festival began as a way to raise money for a community pool and has since taken on a life of its own.

“It was a success and a great community effort and the volunteers supported the community so strongly, it has just continued to survive all of the years,” Scott said.

Today, it continues to be a place to enjoy a bite to eat, have fun, and play games. It’s also 100% volunteer-run, with over 1,000 people contributing.

“Kids cleaning tables, we have adults cooking turkey and separating the turkey, making sandwiches, doing everything here at the festival but it brings our community together,” Scott said.

The festival also hasn’t gotten away from its fundraising roots.

“Since 1966 we have almost given away we have almost given away $2 million dollars,” said Michele Garey with the Tremont Betterment Association.

Using festival funds, the Tremont Betterment Association, the festival’s steering committee has helped with projects including Cullinan Park, a memorial for veterans, and downtown improvements. It’s also provided scholarships for high school seniors that have volunteered.

“You don’t raise a kid in Tremont that hasn’t been touched by the festival already,” Garey said.

Whether you’re from Tremont or just visiting, organizers said the Turkey Festival is a special time.

“It’s just like coming home every time I walk into the park and the turkeys are coming off,” Scott said.

The festival kicks off this Friday and continues through Sunday.