Company: Skogen's Festival Foods
Program category: Neighborhood Health Improvement Programs

Origins:

The Festival Foods Turkey Trot began in 2008 because Festival Foods wanted to host an event that would (1) directly benefit local nonprofits in the communities where its stores were located; and (2) promote fun, family time and fitness. Since the very first Turkey Trot in 2008, Festival Foods has partnered with YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs in communities where Festival Foods grocery stores were located. Both nonprofit organizations contribute to the events by encouraging their employees to serve in a variety of roles on race day.

Why Thanksgiving? Around 2008, the grocer was sponsoring a number of run/walks throughout the state and spotted a trend toward Thanksgiving Day events. The decision was made to hold the event in the early morning so that afternoons would remain open for traditional family meal gatherings.

Why two- and five-mile distances? Event organizers wanted to appeal to both regular exercisers and beginners. They settled on an untimed, two-mile walk (geared more to families) and a timed, five-mile run/walk (geared to those who are generally more active). Over the years, additional elements were added to increase the event’s “fun” component, such as a turkey mascot named Boomer, an option for participants to dress in costume, and a two-mile Dog Jog for participants who want to bring their dogs. The first Turkey Trot was held in 2008 in Green Bay, Appleton and Oshkosh. The next year, it expanded to Fond du Lac and Manitowoc, and Eau Claire joined the third year. La Crosse/the Coulee Region followed suit the fourth year. In the fifth year, Marshfield became the event’s eighth community, and it remained these eight communities until 2016, when Madison and Janesville were added – bringing the total number of Festival Foods Turkey Trot locations to 10.

Contribution:

Company contribution facts: 

  • Festival Foods contributes over $20,000 annually to the Turkey Trot. 
  • Festival Foods employees contribute in excess of 200 hours annually to plan and execute the Turkey Trot. 
  • Festival Foods utilizes marketing and media relationships to promote the Turkey Trot. 

Community participation facts: 

  • The Festival Foods Turkey Trot is the state’s largest running event based on registered participants – over 31,000 in 2016. 
  • The Turkey Trot has become a family holiday tradition in many of the communities it serves. 
  • In addition to Festival Foods staff members, more than 2,000 volunteers annually support the Festival Foods Turkey Trot throughout 10 communities. Volunteers help with packet pickup, water stations, corner monitors, data entry, and T-shirt and pie distribution. A significant number of volunteers come from local YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs, but many Festival Foods associates and community members also contribute their time.

Objectives:

The objectives of the Festival Foods Turkey Trot are: (1) Raise funds for Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs in the communities where Festival Foods stores are located. The funds provide financial assistance to thousands of children, adults and families by giving them access to programs and memberships, funding youth summer programs and camps, and supporting quality youth programs that build academic success, character and leadership skills, and healthy lifestyles. (2) Promote fun (3) Promote family time (4) Promote fitness

Impact:

Year-over-year participation numbers are included:

  • The 2016 Turkey Trot was held in 10 locations and had a total of 31,000 registrants, an increase of 16.32 percent from 2015. Note that 2016 had two more locations than 2015: Madison and Janesville. 
  • The event raised $360,000, and over the span of its nine years, fundraising has totaled $1,930,000. 
  • Because many individuals travel for Thanksgiving, participants represented more than 45 states and three countries. 
  • Volunteers totaled more than 2,000. 
  • Sponsors contribute product and help promote the event. Currently, there are more than 25 event sponsors. 
  • At the end of the run/walk, participants receive a pumpkin pie. Many participants choose to donate the pie to area food shelters. Of the 30,000 pumpkin pies ordered for distribution to race participants in 2016, nearly 4,000 were donated to food shelters. 
  • Among those surveyed following their participation, the 2016 event had a 98 percent approval rate.

Quote:

From Festival Foods President and CEO Mark Skogen: “Each year it amazes me how much this event continues to impact the community. The energy of both running and walking participants, the leadership of the volunteers and the ongoing commitment from event sponsors truly bring our communities together for a fun-filled morning.”

From Kathy Wucherer, Membership Director, Greater Green Bay YMCA: “The Festival Foods Turkey Trot has become a great Thanksgiving tradition in our community for both participants and volunteers. The event brings people together people from all walks of life – children, adults, seniors and even pets – to help promote health and wellness on a holiday known for feasts. With all proceeds benefitting the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA, participants can feel good about helping others while doing something healthy for themselves on this day of thanks.”