Celebration for the Turkeys

November 16, 2019 - Watkins Glen, New York

Celebrate life

The Celebration for the Turkeys event is now sold out and the waiting list is full. We will be posting 2020 events soon! Please check back.

Join us on Saturday, November 16 as we give thanks for the animals who call Farm Sanctuary home at our annual Celebration for the Turkeys!

First we’ll gather at our Watkins Glen, New York Shelter for a day of quality time with rescued cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and other animals against a backdrop of fall foliage. The highlight of the afternoon will of course be the annual Feeding of the Turkeys ceremony, which flips traditional Thanksgiving customs on their head; here, turkeys are never the entree and always the guests of honor! Guests will enjoy watching our turkeys indulging in a delicious feast of pumpkin pie, squash, cranberries, and kale salad.

As the sun begins to sink over the sanctuary, guests will take the short and picturesque drive to the Harbor Hotel on Seneca Lake for a gourmet vegan Thanksgiving feast, featuring special guest speakers.

The Celebration for the Turkeys is a welcoming, positive experience perfect for introducing your non-vegan/vegetarian friends and family members to Farm Sanctuary. Join us and start a new, compassionate Thanksgiving tradition!

Registration is $100 for adults and $60 for children 4-12. Children 3 and under are free. Attendance at this event is limited, so we encourage you to register today!


Saturday, November 16

Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter
3136 Aikens Road, Watkins Glen, NY
Visitor Barn
  • 1:30 p.m.


  • Gift shop opens

  • Open sanctuary time begins

  • 2:30 p.m.

    Feeding of the Turkeys ceremony

  • 4:00 p.m.

    Open sanctuary visiting time ends

  • 4:30 p.m.

    Gift shop closes

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel
16 North Franklin St., Watkins Glen, NY
Harbor Ballroom
  • 4:30 p.m.

    Light refreshments served

  • Cash bar available

  • 5:30 p.m.

    Gourmet vegan Thanksgiving dinner

  • 6:15 - 6:30 p.m.

    Sierra Bessey and Dana Penman

  • Farm Sanctuary Shelter Managers

  • 6:30 - 7:00 p.m.

    Dr. Aysha Akhtar

  • “How Our Destinies With Animals Are Shared”

  • 7:15 -7:30 p.m.

    Gene Baur

  • “Living the Farm Sanctuary Life”

  • 8:00 p.m.

    Book Signing by Gene Baur and Dr. Aysha Akhtar

  • Please fill out Evaluations

Please note that due to an overwhelming response, we are only able to accommodate registered guests during the open sanctuary portion of the event. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Event sponsorship allows Farm Sanctuary to continue hosting events that educate and inspire guests to advocate for farm animals. Together, we can create a more compassionate world!

$350 · Supporter
1 reservation to attend the event and on-site event signage sponsor recognition

$1,000 · Advocate
2 reservations to attend the event and on-site event signage sponsor recognition

$5,000 · Major Sponsor
5 reservations to attend the event and on-site event signage sponsor recognition

$10,000 · Celebration for the Turkeys Host
10 reservations to attend the event; on-site event signage and podium announcement sponsor recognition

Sponsorships must be received by Friday, November 8, 2019 to receive on-site signage recognition:

To discuss event sponsorships, please email Michelle Waffner.


Gene Baur

Gene Baur

Gene Baur

Gene Baur has been hailed as “the conscience of the food movement” by Time magazine. Since the mid-1980s, he has traveled extensively, campaigning to raise awareness about the abuses of industrialized factory farming and our system of cheap food production.

A pioneer in the field of undercover investigations and farm animal rescue, Gene has visited hundreds of farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses, documenting the deplorable conditions. His pictures and videos exposing factory farming cruelties have aired nationally and internationally, educating millions about the plight of modern farm animals, and his rescue work inspired an international farm sanctuary movement.

Gene has also testified in courts and before local, state, and federal legislative bodies, advocating for better conditions for farm animals. His most important achievements include winning the first-ever cruelty conviction at a U.S. stockyard and introducing the first U.S. laws to prohibit cruel farming confinement methods in Florida, Arizona, and California. His efforts have been covered by top news organizations, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal. Gene has published two bestsellers, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and People (Scribner, 2008) and Living the Farm Sanctuary Life (Rodale, 2015), which he co-authored with Forks Over Knives author Gene Stone. Through his writing and his international speaking engagements, Gene provides simple, actionable solutions coupled with a compassion-first approach to help us be the change we wish to see in the treatment of animals and our food system.

Gene began his activist career selling veggie hot dogs out of a VW van at Grateful Dead concerts to fund farm animal rescues. Today, he serves as president of Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, with shelters in New York and California. Providing rescue, refuge, and adoption for hundreds of farm animals each year, Farm Sanctuary shelters enable visitors to connect with farm animals as emotional, intelligent individuals. Gene believes these animals stand as ambassadors for the billions of factory farm animals who have no voice, and he has dedicated his career to advocating on their behalf. Gene holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University, Northridge, and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University. He was recently named one of Oprah Winfrey's SuperSoul 100 Givers.

Dr. Aysha Akhtar

Dr. Aysha Akhtar

Dr. Aysha Akhtar

Dr. Akhtar is double board-certified in both neurology and preventive medicine and has a master’s degree in public health. She is the Deputy Director of the Army’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program and is a Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, in which she deploys to assist with national public health emergencies. She is also a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and is a consultant editor for The Journal of Animal Ethics. Previously, she worked for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the Food and Drug Administration. She lives in Maryland and is the author of Animals and Public Health and Our Symphony with Animals.

Photo Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur

Dana Penman

Dana Penman

Dana Penman

Dana Penman is on the shelter management team at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. She studied biochemistry at the University of Akron. After the birth of her son, she began looking to be a part of an organization that aligned with her vegan values. She came to Farm Sanctuary as a shelter intern in 2016. It was during her internship that she realized Farm Sanctuary and its mission were exactly what she had been looking for. She also met one of the greatest loves of her life, Roxy pig. Along with working at Farm Sanctuary, she owns and helps run a yoga studio and co-op where she enjoys offering yoga to staff to help combat burnout and create a safe and uplifting environment. She believes that the teachings of yoga and veganism are intertwined where the common foundation is rooted in “Ahimsa” which means “nonviolence” to all living things. She believes that all beings, human and animal, deserve love, respect, and understanding.

Sierra Bessey

Sierra Bessey

Sierra Bessey

Sierra Bessey is a lifelong lover of all animals. She became vegetarian at the age of five, and went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Behavior and Physiology from Arizona State. It was during her time in college when she understood that adopting a vegan lifestyle was in line with her morals. She started at Farm Sanctuary’s Orland, California location in 2015 where she managed the shelter for the last nine months of operation. She and her husband moved across the country this past November with their 3 cats and bearded dragon to continue her career with Farm Sanctuary. Sierra is now on the shelter management team for Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. She is dedicated to providing the best care possible for our sanctuary residents and strives towards making the world a kinder place for farm animals through education and advocacy.

Volunteer Opportunities

Farm Sanctuary, a source of education and inspiration for thousands of individuals each year, relies on the dedication of volunteers. We are currently seeking volunteers for the Celebration for the Turkeys event and we would love to have your help!

Volunteers are needed to assist with all aspects of the events: setup, parking, registration, food service, gate assistance, staffing barns, cleanup, and more.

For more information or to sign up to volunteer, please contact Ayla Kaplan.