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Turkey time is upon us: KTD festivities begin tonight with mixer

WORTHINGTON — It’s time to pull out those plaid shirts, dust off the cowboy hat and squeeze into those skinny jeans. We Minnesotans can stand just as tall and proud as those Texans — and our bird can run faster, too.

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Yes, King Turkey Day hasn’t been just a day-long event for many years. There’s so much going on, it takes an entire week to fit it all in — starting with the King Turkey Day Mixer this evening at Worthington’s Pioneer Village.

For a mere displaying of their KTD button, attendees can make their way into the Pioneer Village grounds for a free meal featuring hot turkey sandwiches and potato salad. A small beer garden will be set up on site, and picnic tables will provide seating in and around the big barn on the village grounds.

The mixer gets under way at 5 p.m. and will include a short program to introduce the 2013 KTD parade marshals and honorary turkey.

The theme for the 74th annual King Turkey Day, “Out Fun, Out Laugh, Out Run ... Surviving King Turkey Day 2013,” was developed around this year’s speaker, Holly Hoffman, a participant in the 2010 TV reality show, “Survivor: Nicaragua.” Hoffman, a native of Eureka, S.D., placed fourth on the show, and will share her inspirational message at 1 p.m. Saturday on 10th Street in downtown Worthington.

“We were looking for an inspirational speaker, rather than a politician,” said KTD Board President Dan Huls. “She’ll be talking about people in general and being able to do stuff when you put your mind to it.”

Hoffman, who will come to Worthington with her family and be a guest at the Dayton House, is also scheduled to visit local schools on Friday.

Friday also marks the start of a weekend filled with activities, including several new highlights.

Pig races

After many years of Turk Olympics, the King Turkey Day committee decided to switch it up this year. No longer will there be frozen turkeys hurled at bowling pins or tossed in the air between teams.

This year, Friday night is going to the pigs ... literally.

“There’s a gentleman that comes from Illinois, I think, and he does pig races — he’s a hoot,” said Huls.

Businesses and individuals have lined up to sponsor a pig (more sponsorships are still available by contacting the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce), and will cheer on their favorites in a race to the finish line.

“He sets up a course and you race pigs,” Huls explained. “A bunch of the beauty salons in town have purchased pigs — (as well as) plumbers, HVAC guys and electricians. We’re hoping to get the race teams involved. We’ve sold a lot of pigs already.”

The pig races will begin at 6 p.m. Friday on the grassy area between the Poultry Barn and Olson Arena on the Nobles County Fairgrounds, off Stower Drive in Worthington.

The same crew leading the pig races is putting together a giant sandbox filled with wood chips and money. Kids will be able to rummage in the wood chips in between pig races. Hula-hoop contests will also be announced while there’s a break in the racing action.

Huls said the new attractions are all about giving people something different.

“Everything we’ve done since I’ve been on the board is to give people a change,” he said.

Helicopter rides, scavenger hunt

Another new activity this year offers the public an opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view of Worthington. A helicopter pad will be set up in front of the grandstand, and helicopter rides will be offered in various time spans and for a variety of prices. Rides will begin at 5 p.m. both Friday and Saturday and continue until dark.

If taking a helicopter ride isn’t your thing, you can keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Alternatives include roaming through the vendor expo, the large selection of inflatables in the Midway (a purchased wristband gives access to the inflatables both Friday and Saturday), and standing in front of the barbecue cookers competing in the Smokin’ Gobbler Cook-off.

While you’re walking through the grounds, be sure to keep an eye out for the 600 hand-sized turkeys hidden throughout the fairgrounds. Colored by local schoolchildren, the turkey scavenger hunt takes the place of the ping-pong ball drop this year.

Anyone who finds a turkey or two can turn them in for prizes.

“We’ve had them laminated and we’re trying to scatter those around the grounds,” Huls said. As for the prizes, “you might end up with a pencil or a bicycle, who knows.”

Musical entertainment, food

High school-aged girls who have formed the band Daisy Chain will perform in the beer garden from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, followed by PM Music (DJ) from 8 to 11 p.m.

Saturday night’s main attraction, coming back for its second consecutive year, is Hairball. Doors to the arena open at 6:30 p.m., with the concert to get under way at 8 p.m.

A beer garden will be open from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and 1 to 11:59 p.m. Saturday. Safe cabs will once again be offered Saturday, beginning at 10 p.m.

A large selection of food vendors will be set up on the Nobles County Fairgrounds Friday and Saturday, with a selection of local vendors offering food on Third Avenue downtown during the day on Saturday.

A complete schedule of events slated for this weekend’s King Turkey Day celebration can be found in the special King Turkey Day edition included with today’s Daily Globe.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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