WORTHINGTON - Donkey basketball is returning to Worthington next week for an encore performance.


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The second annual King Turkey Day Donkey Basketball Fundraiser event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday (doors open at 6 p.m.) at Worthington High School. The 2017 version of the event was so successful, KTD board member Susanne Murphy said, that it was an easy decision to bring the unique brand of hoops for a second go-round.


“Holly Sieve and her family invited me to go with them to Blue Earth to watch donkey basketball,” Murphy explained of what led to bringing the event to Worthington. “We laughed so hard we couldn’t eat, and we didn’t even know the riders.


“Since the bowling alley had closed and King Turkey Day needed a fundraiser, we decided to do this. We contact Dairyland Basketball of Wisconsin and worked with the school to find an open date. It was a huge success.”


In fact, Donkey Basketball proved to raise more money than the old KTD Bowling Tournament fundraiser while also providing more entertainment to a lot more people. This year’s participants are expected to draw a large crowd once more. The first game of the night features a group of District 518 staff against a team of Worthington High School seniors, while a second matchup features law enforcement against members of the Worthington Fire Department.


The winners of those games will meet for a championship of sorts following an intermission that will allow small children to ride the donkeys. The animals are clad in rubber boots, so that there’s absolutely no harm done to the gymnasium floor or the donkeys themselves.


Teams are comprised of about eight members each, though they’re not all out on the court at the same time.


“Riders get tired - or else they fall off and are laughing too hard to get back on,” Murphy said.


Additionally, free food will be available for the first 400 people through the doors at WHS. Last year, there was enough for 300, and it ran out.


“JBS donated the pork, and we have King Turkey Day board members who are doing the preparing,” said Murphy, adding that chips, cookies and water will also be served.


This year’s big KTD fundraiser will also feature a couple of major announcements with regard to Worthington’s always-anticipated festival, which takes place annually on the second Saturday after Labor Day (Sept. 15 this year). This year’s KTD race team, which will look to guide the incomparable racing turkey Paycheck to victory in the Great Gobbler Gallop, will be announced Thursday, as will the theme for this year’s King Turkey Day celebration.


Tickets for donkey basketball are available at the office of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, The Stag, The Daily Apple and Bob & Steve’s Holiday. Questions about tickets or the event itself may also be addressed by calling Murphy at 360-6699, or fellow committee members Darci Poppema at 360-4550 or Sieve at 360-6579.


“I would dare anyone to come to this and keep a straight face,” said Murphy, who noted that she will be volunteering as a “pooper scooper” for the second consecutive year. “If they do, I’ll personally reimburse them their money.”