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King Turkey Day to be part of "Finding Minnesota" TV feature

The Worthington High School Trojan marching band performs its brand-new parade show, "Over the Rooftops," during the Lake Crystal Battle of the Bands in June. The band will featured in an upcoming WCCO-TV segment about King Turkey Day.

WORTHINGTON -- Leave it to the turkeys to put Worthington on the map.

During WCCO-TV's Sept. 9 evening broadcasts (and on WCCO's early morning show Sept. 10), Worthington and its decades-old -- but ever fresh -- King Turkey Day celebration will be the focus of "Finding Minnesota," a 2½- to 3½-minute segment that highlights small-town festivities, state history and other regional events of interest.

"I am super excited about the exposure this will give the community," said Brian Almberg, the 2012 King Turkey Day (KTD) board president. "I was called about this just last week, and I think it will be absolutely fantastic for Worthington.

"It should put a fun and positive spin on things, and we hope it will bring some added interest for King Turkey Day."

WCCO-TV, a Minneapolis-based CBS affiliate, employs Worthington native Liz Collin as one of its weekend anchors. Collin served as the featured speaker for King Turkey Day in 2011, and she urged her co-anchor and reporting colleague Mike Binkley to consider covering the local festival for "Finding Minnesota," according to Almberg.

Recent "Finding Minnesota" segments have heralded the Minnesota State Fair's history, Northfield's upcoming Defeat of Jesse James Days and North Shore waterfalls, among other points of interest.

"Mike Binkley is coming to town on Tuesday to do interviews and filming for the spot," Almberg. said "He's asked to see the KTD race team and Paycheck, visit a production turkey farm -- that's lined up for Meyer's Turkey Farm -- to see some live turkeys, and they requested an interview with a turkey caller who won in our turkey calling contest last year."

The Worthington High School Trojan marching band, directed by Jon Loy, was also on WCCO's laundry list for filming. With the bulk of the 120 ninth through 12th grade band members having attended a three-week band camp last June, Loy has pulled out all the stops this past week to refresh his marching instrumentalists on their brand-new parade show, "Over the Rooftops," which features numbers from the musical "Mary Poppins."

"They performed the show three times in June -- for a parent preview night, at the Lake Crystal parade and at the Fulda Wood Duck Festival -- but we have scheduled a special rehearsal this Monday night to get everyone ready for filming on Tuesday," Loy said.

Even though Loy fully expects that as little as 20 seconds of the more than four-minute parade show, with the band decked out in full uniform, could ultimately make it to the screen, he is aware the WCCO feature may give the Trojan band its biggest audience ever.

"I always tell the kids, 'It's an honor to represent not only your school but your city, and any time you have that opportunity, you need to seize the moment,'" Loy said.

"The kids are rallying around this opportunity, and we have really sped up the sharpening process."

Until "Finding Minnesota" found Worthington last week, Loy and his band were counting on their first major performance being at the KTD parade Sept. 15, giving them a full two weeks to perfect the show.

Loy, who also fills the role of KTD parade band coordinator, expects nine bands (including the WHS and WMS bands) to be part of the grand Sept. 14 parade, including outfits from Brookings and West Central High School of South Dakota and the Northern State University Marching Wolves from Aberdeen.

While Loy brushes up his band, Almberg is dusting off his turkey stories.

"My grandpa Hadley Fredrickson moved here in 1938 from South Dakota and made it big in turkeys," noted Almberg, who still lives on the family acreage near Rushmore. "He and Jack Boote drove some of the very first flocks of turkeys down Tenth Street for the early Turkey Days in the 1940s.

"There were as many as 30,000 turkeys out here at any given time, fenced in and eating bugs," he added. "I've been going to Turkey Day since I was old enough to walk, and I'm happy with the way King Turkey Day has grown."

Almberg has served on the KTD board for six years, and said he is glad to see new events being added as the event tries to reach "a broader spectrum of the residents from Worthington and the surrounding area."

Being featured on "Finding Minnesota" may also help more Minnesotans discover King Turkey Day and Worthington; at least, that is the hope of Loy, Almberg and other KTD organizers.

"Hopefully this will draw some first-time turkey race spectators; you never know who you're going to get," Almberg said.

"There's nothing like a professional turkey race."

For more information about WCCO-TV's "Finding Minnesota" segments, visit WCCO-TV's website. Check local programming guides to confirm WCCO-TV's Sept. 9 news broadcast times.