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Turkey calls, BBQ and parade highlight KTD activities (with video)

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe On the campaign trail, Henry Pfeil glides down the parade route in one of his vintage automobiles.2 / 3
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe A competitor at the Smokin' Gobbler Cook-Off is pictured Saturday in Worthington.3 / 3

WORTHINGTON -- Jim Hudson has been helping with the pancake breakfast as part of King Turkey Day for many years.

But this year's breakfast was a little different for Hudson as he is moving from the area and handing off the reigns for the morning tradition.

"I've always had a good time working down here at the feed and you get to meet a lot of people and work with a great bunch of guys," Hudson said. "We do a lot of work, but it's fun."

The old fire station was full on the inside, with the line spanning a block down the street as people waited for the pancakes and sausage.

"It's been a good day," Hudson said. "The weather has been fantastic and a there are a lot of people uptown and a lot of people at the feed. We probably feed anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 people. Right now we have a good crowd in here eating and we have a good crowd standing outside. It's always been a good way to start out the day; to get fed and get ready for the whole day."

The large turnout proved to be a common theme throughout the day, KTD Board of Directors President Brian Almberg said.

"I was thrilled with the turnout," Almberg said. "We were all thrilled. We had such a big response from the community. It was great to see all the kids and families playing out there on the inflatable (at the fairgrounds)."

While the breakfast was running smoothly, Hudson's day was far from over.

"This year, I happen to be the parade marshal," he said. "I'm thinking it was just an honorary title since I'm retiring and moving out of town, they thought they better grab me while the chance was good.

"It's an honorary title. I really don't have to do any directing or anything like that. But it's quite an honor to have folks at least think I was doing a good job here for Turkey Day. It's probably their way of saying thanks on my way out of town."

Meanwhile, the Long Branch Saloon was the place for the King Turkey Day King Kaller competition.

"Basically we have guys from all over: Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, of course," said Shane Simpson, who won the open division. "These guys come here to compete because some of them just like to compete. Some of them are here to qualify for grand nationals, which me winning, I qualified for grand nationals. I'll go down to Nashville in February and hopefully win a national championship."

Simpson, who has won numerous contests, including last month's 2012 Iowa State Turkey Calling Championships, has been improving in recent years and is looking for a strong showing at the national competition. It was that very same competition that spurred his desire to get into calling in the first place.

"I watched some grand national calling when I was younger," Simpson said. "I always wanted to get up on that stage and compete. That's when I was 14. Here I am 20-some odd years later and I finally had the guts back here in 2009. They had the Midwest Sports Show in Minneapolis and I had the guts to finally get up on that stage."

As the competition was finishing up, featured speaker Mike Patrick was beginning his speech down the road.

Patrick is a Worthington High School graduate who has become a motivational speaker and health educator.

On a Friday night in 1971, Patrick suffered an injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down.

"One of my teammates reached over and was going to pick me up and I said, 'Don't touch me, I can't move,'" Patrick said during his speech. "I didn't know that I had broken my neck but I knew something was wrong because I couldn't move and I got this tingling that went through the middle of my chest on down to my toes. I could literally feel the sensation go out of my body."

He spoke about many topics during his 15-minute speech and wanted to pass along the message, "That they are all very capable and they have to recognize what those capabilities are," he said. "We are all critical thinkers, we just have to recognize we use process for solving problems. We need to recognize how we go about doing that."

It was then time for the Great Gobbler Gallop -- which Ruby Begonia won -- and the KTD parade.

The parade had well over 100 entrants, including a plethora of marching bands. One of the top shows was from the hometown school.

"This year, our show is entitle 'Over the rooftops,' featuring the music of 'Mary Poppins,"' said WHS band director Jon Loy. "Our show takes you on the journey the rooftops of London.

"It's a visual feast and has wonderful music and dancing and colors and it's a real tribute to the family-beloved musical of Mary Poppins."

The Trojans, who had a successful season a year ago, enjoyed marching in front of their home crowd.

"The hometown parade is probably our most important moment of our whole season because we're not just marching for points and hardware, but we're marching for hometown pride," Loy said. "We know that our community loves their band, always has and always will. That's what makes it a special time to march in the King Turkey Day parade in Worthington."

Out at the fairgrounds, the Smokin' Gobbler Cook-Off featured 40 teams, more than double from last year.

"I thought it was great," competitor Andy Braun said of the competition. "It was a well-run contest and a great setup. The people running the contest were great as far as just making sure everything was OK. It was great."

The event was a sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society event.

"To qualify for grand champion or reserve champion, you have to cook all four meats, that's chicken, pork ribs, pull pork and beef brisket," Braun said. "They have to be cooked with charcoal or wood, no gas or electricity. It's nice to have a few people on your team because there is a lot that goes into it."

It brought some of the best cooks in the country.

"They were competing for points for the national championship," Almberg said. "We had three of the top five and five of the top 10 in the nation in points at our barbeque contest this year."

The night concluded with a performance by the band Hairball, which Almberg estimated more than 2,000 attendees.

"We totally set new records," Almberg said. "Not only did we set records in community sponsorships and donations from the businesses, but we really did well with the Hairball concert."

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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.