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Turkeys prepare for Saturday faceoff

King Turkey Day Board of Directors President Dan Huls (from left) stands with 2013 Honorary Turkey Lon Lien, KTD race team members Amanda Walljasper-Tate, Jami Cummings, Jason Vote and Brian Almberg, and 2013 Parade Marshal Marv Spomer at the KTD Mixer Monday night at Pioneer Village in Worthington. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — As the face-off between Worthington’s Paycheck and Cuero, Texas’ Ruby Begonia draws nearer, both teams are preparing their champions for the Great Gobbler Gallop, slated for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

The two birds have been busy with preparations to ensure they are in tip-top condition for the race.

“I can tell you that our turkey has been in an intensive training facility for quite a few months now,” Ruby Begonia Coach Terri Warwas said.

Paycheck’s team, on the other hand, seems to be taking a more laid-back approach to getting ready for this year’s big event.

“The training is kind of the same as it is every other year,” Coach Brian Almberg said. “We kind of let them (turkeys) run wild, and then we stand back and watch them and see who has the best constitution and the nicest legs.”

Warwas has been a member of the racing team for years and has been a captain and handler in the past. This will be her first year acting as coach.

“I’ve been taking pointers from other members of the team and getting the team and the bird in fine form to run the race,” she said.

Warwas alluded to a secret diet that the team hopes will secure a Saturday win, but she was unwilling to divulge any specifics.

“It’s our secret ingredients, and I can’t disclose that information,” she said.

The Worthington team is also hoping Paycheck’s diet will give it an edge over the competition.

“She’s getting a high protein diet of cracked corn and a little bit of cracked wheat mixed into that,” Almberg said. “The other ingredients are a confidential supplement powder.

“Of course, it’s all legal if they tested her,” he quickly added. “It’s all natural supplements.”

Last year, the Worthington team chose to compete with a bird new to the racetrack — a mistake that cost it the win.

“Last year we went with a different Paycheck, one that had been running around a little too wild,” Alberg said. “It had beautiful plumage, but a lousy sense of direction.”

This year, the Worthington team will try to make up for last year’s loss with an experienced bird that competed in the 2011 and 2010 King Turkey Day races.

“This bird is a veteran. He knows the route, he’s done it before — twice here and twice in Texas — and he is a good, solid runner,” Almberg said.

Almberg was as equally reluctant as Warwas to reveal too much about the team’s strategy.

“I’d rather not go into it, because I know they read our press,” he said. “We have to keep a few secrets up our sleeve.”

The Texas team expects Ruby Begonia to be relaxed and in her finest form when she arrives in Worthington on Thursday.

“She’s getting spa treatments to get her relaxed before we leave,” Warwas said.

Almberg, however, didn’t place too much credit in Warwas’ claims.

“(Warwas is) an archrival and has been for a number of years,” he said. “I would take that spa business with a grain of salt — or a grain of grit.”

Spa treatments or not, the Texas team is hoping to put on a repeat performance of its 2012 win.

“We expect a good race and hopefully a really close one this year,” Warwas said. “We’re planning on winning again this year — but you know how turkeys are.”

In spite of the impending showdown, both teams are looking forward to the event and encouraged community members to watch the turkeys battle it out in the race to the finish line.

“I hope everyone can come out and have fun,” Almberg said. “It’s a great community event, and I’m very happy to have been a part of it.”

Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at
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