King Turkey Day schedule is filled with traditions

With the medallion hunt under way, activities stack up for festival traditions later this week.

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The 2021 Worthington King Turkey Day button features a cartoonish drawing of Paycheck leading the 2021 race, with Cuero, Texas bird Ruby Begonia falling behind as the 2020 bird ditching her face mask. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)
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WORTHINGTON — King Turkey Day week is here, and it’s going to be double the fun in 2021 after taking a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Events get underway Thursday, with the King Turkey Day Mixer planned at Pioneer Village from 5 to 9 p.m. Admission to the event is with a KTD button, and people still have a chance to purchase one at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and participating businesses.

The mixer includes a free meal and plenty of space to socialize, while also celebrating the announcements of the Honorary Turkey and Parade Marshal.

Activities pick up the pace on Friday, with the KTD Beer Garden open from 4 to 11 p.m. at the new 10th Street Pavilion at the corner of Second Avenue and 10th Street. Meanwhile, kids will have tons of fun at the greatly expanded offering of inflatables, which will open on Ninth Street at 4 p.m.

“We have the biggest inflatables that we’ve ever had,” said Susanne Murphy, KTD Board member, noting there will be nine inflatables in all, including a Kids Zone for toddlers. Inflatables will overflow into the county parking lot, those geared for the older kids and teens.


“They will have hours of fun on what we are bringing in this year,” Murphy added.

The inflatables will be open until dark on Friday, and from 10 a.m. to dark on Saturday. Both nights, families can then gather on the Government Center lawn to watch a movie on the large, inflatable movie screen. Showing Friday evening is “Raya and the Last Dragon,” with “Tom & Jerry” the featured Saturday night movie.

Food vendors will open at 5 p.m. Friday, offering a wide variety of traditional festival foods as well as numerous ethnic food options.

“We have 22 to 23 food vendors this year,” shared Murphy, noting that is about double what the festival normally has. As a result, food vendors will fill Third Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets, and extend halfway down Ninth Street between Third and Fourth avenues.

People can expect to find popular items like mini doughnuts and cheese curds, as well as Indian tacos, egg rolls, gyros, several stands supplying an array of barbecued meats, and Nystrom Orchard offering tantalizing apples, drinks and food options.

Food vendors will reopen at 10 a.m. Saturday and continue to serve food through the evening.

Returning for this year’s KTD festivities is a Cornhole Tournament, with a singles competition starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and a doubles tournament beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. Both tournaments will be set up on 10th Street, between the beer garden and Wells Fargo Bank. Murphy said registrations are still being accepted for either tournament, and people can call the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919 or Murphy at 360-6699 to sign up.

“We have brand new boards and bags this year, sponsored by Worthington Sports and Rec,” Murphy said, adding that trophies were made to match the boards.


And new this year, a vendor fair will be set up on Fourth Avenue, behind the KTD stage, on Saturday.

The full schedule of KTD activities includes:


5 to 9 p.m. — King Turkey Day Mixer, Pioneer Village


4 to 11 p.m.: Beer Garden open

4 p.m. to dark: Inflatables open

5 p.m.: Food vendors open


8 p.m.: “Raya and the Last Dragon,” Government Center Lawn

8 to 11 p.m.: Music, Beer Garden


9 a.m.: YMCA 5K Walk, 5K and 10K Run, Sixth Avenue and 10th Street

9 a.m. to noon: Free pancake breakfast, Worthington Fire Hall

10 a.m. to close: Food vendors open

10 a.m. to dark: Inflatables open

11 a.m.: KTD Family Fun Bike Ride, Fire Hall Parking Lot

11:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: Beer Garden open

1 p.m.: Featured speaker Gordon Moore III, associate justice, Minnesota Supreme Court

1:30 p.m.: Great Gobbler Gallop

2 p.m.: Grand Parade

4 to 6 p.m.: Balloon Artist Mr. Twister, face painting and caricature artist, Government Center Lawn

8 p.m.: “Tom & Jerry”, Government Center Lawn

8 to 11:30 p.m.: Ron Keel performs, Beer Garden


9 a.m.: Ecumenical Country Western service, First Lutheran Church

Related Topics: EVENTS
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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