Honkers shoot for big win in online mascot contest

KENMARE Thanks to their unusual moniker, the Kenmare Honkers are in the running for $2,000 to help out the school’s athletic department.

USA Today selected Kenmare and four other North Dakota schools to participate in a national contest for the best high school sports mascot and logo in the country. USA Today is letting fans choose the winner.

The first round of online voting began Monday and continues through March 5. Voting will determine which school mascots go on to represent their states in regional rounds that run from March 6 to 16. Winners in each of the six regions advance to a national round from March 15 to 25. The national winner will receive the $2,000 prize.

Renae Murphy, business manager at Kenmare High School, said the school received a call from the publishing company two weeks ago to let them know that their mascot was selected for the contest. Not sure what to think, the school didn’t get excited until another call came Monday to let them know that the contest had started.

School officials then sprang into action to alert the local newspaper and students.

“We made everybody aware of it around here and sent first-class letters to quite a few schools to say we appreciate your vote,” Murphy said.

Somewhat flustered by the unexpected attention, the Honkers are hopeful for a positive outcome. As of Tuesday afternoon, they had the lead in the North Dakota polling.

Other North Dakota schools selected for the contest are the Grafton Spoilers, Valley City Hi-Liners, Munich-Starkweather Magic Storm and Oak Grove Lutheran Grovers.

Murphy said Kenmare has used the Honkers mascot for so long that no one at the school knows anymore why the goose call was selected for the nickname. However, Kenmare is located in Ward County’s “gooseneck,” she said. These days Kenmare also is known for its annual Goosefest festivities.

USA Today’s description for the Honkers notes that the goose is quite popular and common in the Kenmare area, and it was immortalized by the school giving a nod to its honkin’ abilities. Kenmare has a honker suit, which is worn by a student at the games, and that in turn inspires opponents to come dressed in hunting gear.

Nationally, 255 high school mascots, from the Auks in Delaware to the Zizzers in Missouri, are competing in the contest. They include five from each state and from Washington, D.C.

To vote, people should log on to (contest.usatodayhss.com). Ad-blocking software may have to be disabled.

USA Today’s contest rules say that voters should be at least 13 years old. There is no limit to the number of times a person can vote.