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Thursday, June 8, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Idaho testicle festival goes on after TV, radio ads withdrawn

The Associated Press

EAGLE, Idaho – Now that the Fire Department has agreed to drop those racy ads from back East, the mayor has agreed to let the Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed — a tradition here since the 1950s — proceed Saturday as scheduled.

At issue are fried bull testicles, cowboy caviar. Male cattle are neutered to make them more manageable and larger, presumably because asexual steers have little interest in chasing cows.

The results don't turn up on steakhouse menus, but thousands of people turn out each year for the all-you-can-eat event in this city about 10 miles west of Boise.

The tradition was news to employees at Foot, Cone and Belding, a New York advertising agency. They were so tickled by the notion of paying $22 to savor sliced "Idaho tendergroin" that they offered to develop the ads for free, said Scott Pruett, treasurer of the Eagle Volunteer Firefighters Association.

But while the event has a 50-year history, the New York approach shocked some locals.

"All the controversy was directing attention away from the fire department and the Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed," Pruett said Thursday. "It was better to step back a little bit and have a meeting of the minds."

Phone calls late Thursday to Tony Hess at the agency weren't immediately returned.

The Foot, Cone and Belding crew came up with three ads for television, plus radio spots.

The TV ads never made the airwaves. Carried on the fire station's Web site, they included some profanity from a cartoon bull lamenting the loss of his barnyard jewels at a poetry slam.

Local radio stations did play some of the ads, including one with the line, "Hey, you with the testicles? Gimme your testicles."

That was enough to shock some members of this growing community of 12,000 people.

Mayor Nancy Merrell put her foot down. She told reporters with the Boise NBC affiliate KTVB-TV she was considering barring the Fire Department from using the city park for the event.

But she relented when the department dropped the ads.

"They have agreed to comply," Merrell said in a statement. "The Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed event will still take place."

Pruett, bemused by the attention the ads generated, says firefighters thought they were funny. And while they've agreed to clip the promotion spots, the feed is otherwise unaltered.

"The people who go, they know what they're going for," Pruett said. "They know what they're eating."

Many East Coast folks are unaware of the cattle-country canape, also celebrated at the beer-soaked "Testicle Festival" in Rock Creek, Mont., and the annual "World Championship Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival" at Throckmorton, Texas, where contestants in a swinging-beef fryoff are judged on the tenderness and appearance of their cowboy caviar.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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