Steamboat Turkey Bowl draws crowd for a cause |

Steamboat Turkey Bowl draws crowd for a cause

Luke Graham
Brent Pearson catches a pass during the annual Turkey Bowl on Thursday at Ski Town Fields.
Matt Stensland

— In the horizon, Mount Werner poked out over Ski Town Fields on a sunny, but crisp Thanksgiving Day.

Small dots could be seen on Heavenly Daze taking in Opening Day at Steamboat Ski Area.

But the hoots and hollers, and possibly the most fun of the day, were all taking place at Ski Town Fields.

There, more than 30 men reverted back to a childhood ritual. A Thanksgiving ritual. A ritual that didn’t involve eating, sitting on the couch or consuming a enough calories for an elephant.

No, instead it was just a good ol’ fashioned, nine a side, two-hand touch, football game.

With the sun out, and 6 inches of snow on the field, it made for a classic in the fourth annual Turkey Bowl.

“I love it,” said Chris Paoli, who helped start the game with Andy Picking. “Every year it’s a great time. It makes the whole day.”

It’s also turned into quite the charitable effort.

Each player pays $100 to play. Then 100 percent of the proceeds go to a charity. Past recipients have included Horizons Specialized Services, Advocates Building Peaceful Communities and Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports among others.

This year, the money will go to Heather Scarborough who has been battling Stage Four stomach cancer. Those interested in donating to Scarborough to help with medical expenses can click here.

“Every year we raise between $2,500 and $3,000,” Paoli said.

The idea for the Turkey Bowl in Steamboat originated several years ago but had been set in motion more than four decades ago.

While Picking was growing up in Johnstown, Pa., his father started a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving.

It was the same format with all the proceeds going to Easter Seals.

“My dad started the game on Thanksgiving when he was 30,” Picking said. “I thought we could do the same format. My dad still does it and he’s 74. So he’s been doing it for 44 years.”

The idea grew and grew and the game averages at least 30 players per year.

This year, Cantina Fresh Mexican Restaurant donated burritos for the game. B&K Distributing donated a keg and McKnight’s Irish Pub & Loft hosted the after party.

“We decided it’s a cool way to give back and have fun with the guys,” Picking said. “Plus, we get to play football once a year.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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