WORTHINGTON — Paul LaRoche has been named featured speaker for the annual King Turkey Day festival set for Sept. 14.

LaRoche is the founder and producer of the award-winning Native American music group Brulé. The group is best known for thrilling audiences with a merging of cultural rock and theatrical instrumentation. Now in its 23rd season, their national performances carry the same type of contagious excitement as Trans Siberian Orchestra, Celtic Thunder, and Riverdance — but with the emotional impact of the American Indian culture.

The group is one of the top-selling Native American adult/rock music acts and has chalked up CD sales of more 1 million worldwide. Brulé has released 23 titles in as many years and has been named "Group of the Year" five times by the prestigious Native American Music Awards, earning seven NAMMYs since 2002. Its annual performance schedule takes them extensively throughout the U.S., touring the casino, performing arts theater, arena, corporate and festival circuits.

Brulé was invited to visit and perform by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in 2018 with assistance from the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Consulate General and American Voices. The group was hosted by the Saudi General Culture Authority, and performances were programmed by the Arabian Centers. The tour ran from April 8-21 and included performances and workshops in the Saudi Arabia cities of Riyadh and Jeddah.

Brulé has also launched a 501c3 Public Charity for Native American youths called "Following the 7th Direction." The organization is accepting donations to help with its mission to serve the impoverished American Indian reservations of the northern plains by providing concerts and workshops to provide hope, pride and inspiration. The goal is to reach the reservation youths and intervene with the high suicide epidemic.

LaRoche will speak to the crowd from the Fourth Avenue and 10th Street platform at 1 p.m. He will then will serve as flagman for the running of the Great Gobbler Gallop turkey race between Paycheck, the fastest bird of the north, against Ruby Begonia, the pride of Texas. Following his address and the turkey race, LaRoche will ride as guest of honor in the parade.

Other features on this year's King Turkey Day schedule of events include free pancakes to all comers, 10K and 5K foot races, a 5K walk, turkey dinners, grand parade, BBQ contest, "fowl play" and much more.