Turtle races draw crowdWINDOM — Many gutted it out in the hot sun, but in the end, there could be only one winner.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WINDOM — Many gutted it out in the hot sun, but in the end, there could be only one winner.
Alex the turtle, owned by Claire Walinga of Windom, was declared the fastest turtle of 2009 at the Riverfest Saturday in Windom.
“(The event has) been a big draw. From what it first started out as, it’s really grown,” said Keith Haugen, who was helping run the races with Bill Mielke. “We’ll even have the parents of the kids out there. People really get into it.”
Before the race, Alyssa Johnson, a Windom 8-year-old, examined her aptly named turtle Frigo though the Frigo Parmesan Cheese container she was holding him in.
“He’s pretty fast,” she assured. “He really wants to go now because he’s trying to get out.”
The children ran their turtles in many heats of five turtles each, with the winners of each heat advancing to the next round. Some years, Haugen said, the races have gone on for hours, with more than 200 turtles plodding their way toward the championship. This year though, Alex was declared the winner in about an hour’s time.
Nearby the turtle races was another popular event, Dunk the Dignitaries, newly expanded this year with even more dignitaries to dunk.
In the past, just the sheriff and two deputies have sat atop the dunk tank. This year, said organizer Hannah Reardon, Windom Mayor Kirby Kruse and some local firefighters joined in.
Proceeds from the event will go to Big Buddies in Jackson and Cottonwood Counties, a program that matches youth with older mentors.
“We rely a lot on the generosity of those two counties,” Reardon said.
Sheriff Jason Purrington, was ready to enjoy the day’s festivities with his two sons after he said he was dunked too many times to count.
“That water is nice and cold,” he said. “On a day like today it feels pretty good.”