ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

WANTED: A Great Gobbler Gallop Win for Worthington!

WORTHINGTON -- King Turkey Day is a community celebration, and it has elements that are common to many such festivals -- walk/run events, a grand parade, beer garden, carnival games and activities, class reunions ...

2021107+kiddie paradeWEB.jpg
The JBS safety pig leads participants Friday night in the United Way of Nobles County Kiddie Parade at the Nobles County Fairgrounds. The event was coordinated as a fundraiser to return the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the county. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - King Turkey Day is a community celebration, and it has elements that are common to many such festivals - walk/run events, a grand parade, beer garden, carnival games and activities, class reunions ...
But there are things about King Turkey Day that set it apart from the rest. First of all, we celebrate the turkey - a feathered creature that is really quite ugly, generally not very bright and is best known as the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving Day meal.
We have the audacity to claim to be the Turkey Capital of the World and fight for that right by racing turkeys against a city in Texas. And we delight in telling strangers about that Great Gobbler Gallop, relishing the raised eyebrows and utter disbelief that results as we spin tales about the rivalry between Worthington’s Paycheck and Cuero’s Ruby Begonia. (By the way, Paycheck really needs a win this year. Since the Texans have dominated for several years running, the overall standings are too close for comfort: Paycheck has won the overall race 22 times, and Ruby Begonia 20. Go, Paycheck, Go!)
So how did Worthington come to revere the gobbling bird?
Today is the 76th King Turkey Day, the festival dating back to 1939, when Worthington was a center of turkey production. Huge flocks of birds were raised on farms around the community, and they were processed in two plants: E.O. Olson’s Worthmore Creamery & Producer and J.C. Boote’s Hatchery and Produce. During a trip to Texas, Olson witnessed a community festival that celebrated the turkey, and he brought the idea back to Worthington. An autumn celebration was organized, featuring a free pancake feast and a parade.
The quirkiness of the celebration caught the attention of both the national media and politicians, who jumped at the chance to address the crowds that showed up for King Turkey Day.
Eventually, turkey production dwindled in the area, but - except for a hiatus during World War II - Worthington continued to celebrate the bird that helped the region rebound from the Great Depression.
In 1972, word of another community’s claim to the “Turkey Capital of the World” title - the same Texas community from which Olson had borrowed the idea - made its way to Worthington.
Editors from the newspapers in Worthington and Texas put their heads together, and a challenge was issued to the town of Cuero, Texas, for a turkey race to decide which community, north or south, could claim for the coming year the turkey title. One heat would take place in Worthington during King Turkey Day, and a second in Cuero during its October Turkeyfest, with the combined times determining the contest’s winner.
Today’s contest is the 43rd matchup between Worthington’s bird, named Paycheck because he goes so fast, and Cuero’s Ruby Begonia. Each bird is trained by a team of four human handlers, who share in the gobbler’s glory or disgrace, depending on the outcome of the race.

Here is the full schedule of events for today’s King Turkey Day activities:

6:30 a.m. to noon - Farmers Market, Ace Hardware Parking Lot
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Smokin’ Gobbler Cook-Off, Nobles County Fairground
8:30 a.m. - YMCA 5K Family Fun Walk, Downtown
9 a.m. to noon - Free Pancake Breakfast, Fire Station on Second Avenue
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Fourth Annual Turkey Day Vendor Expo, Nobles County Fairgrounds
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Food Vendors, Downtown Worthington
10:45 a.m. - Disc Golf Ace Race Tournament, Sunset Bay Disc Golf Course
10 a.m. to 9 pm. - Inflatables, Nobles County Fairgrounds
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Carnival Games (Ring Toss & Duck Pick-up), Nobles County Fairgrounds
10 a.m. - Start of Horseshoe Tournament Doubles (9 a.m. Registration), Chautauqua Park
10 a.m. - 10K Run, 10th Street
Open at 11 a.m. - Food Vendors, Nobles County Fairgrounds
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Hot Turkey on Bun Meal, First United Methodist Church
1 to 11:59 p.m. - King Turkey Day Beer Garden, Nobles County Fairgrounds
1 p.m. Featured Speaker Dan Gable, 10th Street
1:30 p.m. - Great Gobbler Gallop, 10th Street
2 p.m. - Grand Parade, 10th Street
3:30 p.m. - Smokin’ Gobbler Cook-Off Awards Ceremony, KTD Beer Garden, Nobles County Fairgrounds
4:30 to 7:30 p.m. - Plain Train Free Rides for Kids, Nobles County Fairgrounds
4 p.m. until dark - Giant Sandbox Treasure Hunt, Nobles County Fairgrounds
4 p.m. until gone - Breaded Baked Pork Chop Supper, Eagles Lodge
4 p.m. Elks Lodge Sm'rgåsbord, Elks Lodge
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. - Mr. Twister, Nobles County Fairgrounds
5:30 p.m. - Steve Gryb (The Pied Piper of Percussion), Nobles County Fairgrounds
6:45 p.m. - Steve Gryb (The Pied Piper of Percussion), Nobles County Fairgrounds
7 p.m. - King Turkey Day & RadioWorks Presents: Love & Theft (doors open at 5:30 p.m.), Worthington Hockey Arena, Nobles County Fairgrounds
10 p.m. - Safe Cabs begin available for people going home

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT