By Alex DeMetrick

MAPLE LAWN, Md. (WJZ) — Turkey is a big part of Thanksgiving. But for one Howard County farm, it’s a way of life.

This week, the annual turkey rush is on at Maple Lawn Farms.

The farm raises turkeys from one-day-old chicks, which arrive there in June. The fully grown birds are harvested the week before Thanksgiving.

“Fresh turkey,” says customer John Young. “It’s so moist. It’s tender.”

For thousands of people, that juicy Thanksgiving centerpiece is worth coming to Howard Coutny to stand in line three days before the holiday.

Even in the age of click it and ship it, tradition trumps convenience for many.

“I tell people it’s like going to pick your own pumpkin, or cutting down a Christmas tree,” says manager Chris Bohrer. “It’s a family tradition many of these families have been doing for many, many years.”

“It’s a tradition, absolutely,” agrees customer Barbara Harris. “It’s a tradition and this year we brought the great grandkids for the first time.”

The 30-pound turkey Connie De Niro is taking home matches her family’s number of visits to the farm.

“Thirty years,” she says. “My brother started… and then after he passed away a few years ago, we just wanted to continue the tradition to come here.”

The tradition goes back for quite a few more decades than that, though. It began 79 years ago.

“It started with my wife’s grandparents,” says Bohrer. “They got turkeys for their wedding present in 1938 and they sold them that Thanksgiving.”

Family and friends all pitch in.

“It’s a blast,” says family friend Don Alexander. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.”

By Wednesday evening, nearly all the farm’s 20,000 turkeys will be gone.

Maple Lawn Farms does provide turkeys for some stores, but the vast majority of its sales happen on the farm itself.

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