As the official “Turtle Race Capital of the World,” Longville has been hosting this iconic event for more than 50 years.
In 2019, every Wednesday for 12 weeks — June 5-Aug. 21 — downtown Longville’s main street morphs into a weekly carnival, with games, food, contests and, of course, turtle races.
Volunteers appear in their trademark yellow t-shirts as music and merriment fill the air. It’s summer, which means it’s turtle race season in Longville!
The fun begins at 1 p.m. when the games and contests start. Games include Turtle Touchdown, Turtle Ring Toss, Fishin’ For Fun, whiffle ball roll and bean bag toss. Contests, which are free, include the Macarena and Chicken Dances, hula-hoops for all ages, the Hokey Pokey, YMCA Dance and popular line dances. The entertainment also recognizes visitors’ birthdays and anniversaries with special music and gifts.
The excitement builds as the clock approaches 2 p.m., when the turtles take center stage and all attention is focused on the circular race course painted in the middle of Main Street.
Racing starts with the special Chamber Resort Race, followed by the regular turtle races, conducted in racing heats of 10-15 turtles each. Winners in each heat (racers with the fastest and slowest turtles) receive ribbons and qualify to compete in the grand champion races at the end of the afternoon. Overall winners receive prizes and coupons from area merchants.
Most of the turtles are the common painted turtles, prevalent throughout Minnesota’s lake country. Participants may bring their own turtles to race, but there are a couple of rules. Shells must measure at least 4 inches in diameter and turtles cannot be of the “snapping” variety or an exotic species.
If you don’t have a turtle of your own, you can race one from turtle vendors, who are on hand to help.
For more information, contact the Longville Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, (800) 756-7583, (218) 363-2630 or www.Longville.com.