Talking turkey during KTDWORTHINGTON — In some competitions, it’s important to walk the walk. On Saturday, it will be all about talking the talk. Turkey talk.
WORTHINGTON — In some competitions, it’s important to walk the walk. On Saturday, it will be all about talking the talk.
Clucks, cackles, purrs, putts and the good old gobble — all will be part of the conversations at the King Turkey Day King Kaller contest, which takes place from 9 a.m. until approximately noon Saturday at the Long Branch Saloon’s new dance hall.
A National Wild Turkey Federation-sanctioned contest, the Kaller should be the perfect complement to other King Turkey Day festivities.
Registration for the contest opens at 8 a.m., with a contestant meeting at 8:45 a.m. Once the calling starts, according to KTD board member Chad Cummings, the skill level will go up, with the class levels beginning with youth and young adult and moving on to hunter, friction and open class.
“To be part of the open class, you have to have won a sanctioned contest before,” Cummings explained. “We have talented callers coming in from five or six different states, one is a grand national winner from Wisconsin, and we have at least two state champs.”
The board had brainstormed ideas for new events, and one member had talked to several people who were involved in turkey calling.
Cummings did a little looking around on the Internet and found 2011 Minnesota State Turkey Calling Champion Shane Simpson online at a popular hunting and fishing forum, Hot Spot Outdoors.
Cummings contacted Simpson to ask how Worthington could host a NWTF-sanctioned event.
“He was 110 percent giddy,” Cummings said with a laugh. “He started getting in touch with buddies from the calling circuit.”
The open class, Cummings said, is “for the big boys,” but the hunter and youth divisions are for anyone who would like to participate.
The judges will instruct each caller on what three calls they should imitate. A funny turkey gobble is not the goal. Callers may be asked to perform a hen distress call, a kee-kee yelp, a cluck or one of the many other turkey sounds.
The judges cannot see the caller and vice versa, and the callers are informed of what calls they have to make once they’re on the floor and ready to begin.
“Some of them really get into it,” Cummings said. “They turn, walk toward the judges, use their hands to cup the sounds.”
The payout for the open class is $800, and for the other classes will depend on the number of participants.
The board is hoping for some big turkey-calling names, as well as plenty of spectators to come watch.
“We don’t expect people to sit there for three hours, but they can come and go,” Cummings said.
The outer door will be closed while a contestant is on the stage to avoid interruption during the “performance,” Cummings said, because it needs to be quiet during calling. In between callers, the door will be open or manned by a member of the Tomorrow’s Turkeys group.
The winners of the competition will not only win money and a trophy, but will be on a float during the King Turkey Day parade.
“The winners will be calling turkeys as they go through the parade,” Cummings said.
Ruby Begonia and Paycheck might be interested in meeting a few of the champions, if that’s the case.
With the hosting of the new event, the KTD board is hoping the contest will grow and continue to bring in callers — both local and from across the nation.
“We want to expose new people and families to King Turkey Day,” Cummings said. “And we want locals to come and watch and welcome them to our city and festival.”