|Longville's iconic Turtle Races have been enjoyed by children of all ages for the last 40 years.
Back in the mid-60’s Russ Nyvall started the races after realizing that there was a need to entertain residents and those vacationing in the area during the summer.
Every Wednesday afternoon from June through late August, swimming beaches go strangely quiet; cabins, motels, cottages and resorts empty out; and streams of cars descend on the little town of Longville on the shores of Girl Lake to race turtles.
Today, the turtle mobile rumbles into town at about noon each Wednesday. Promptly at 12:30 nearly 25 volunteers magically appear and unload the turtle mobile, close off main street, and transform the town into a mini-county fair.
All games, contests and races are held in the center of town on main street.
Race participants are charged a $3 fee to enter the race. Each entrant receives a turtle race button and a numbered sticker. When the races begin, turtle vendors bring out turtles from which the race participants choose. Instead of using one of our highly trained turtles, a race participant can provide their own turtle as long as the turtle shell is at least 5 inches in diameter.
At about 1 p.m. after everything has been set-up, the games and
contests begin. This includes the YMCA dance, chicken dance
and hula-hoop contest, to name a few. Promptly at 2 p.m. the turtle races begin.
The first race of the day is the "Chamber Resort Turtle
This race is for chamber member lodging establishments who wish
to send a participant each week for the resort race. You
must present the resort race ticket at registration. This
ticket should be provided by the lodging establishment you are
at prior to your arrival at the races. Race participants
can represent their resorts and win prizes. If your resort
or lodging establishment is not a chamber member, you still have
the great opportunity to race in the regular turtle races for
the grand prizes.
The regular turtle races start right after the resort race. Run in heats of ten, twelve, or fifteen turtles, depending on the number of racers that day and the time remaining, the turtle racers
then gather in the center circle. Turtle vendors bring out the turtles selected to race in that heat. At the moment that the announcer yells “go” and special turtle race motivating music has begun, the racers release their turtles. Instinctively, the turtles head out from the inner circle across the pavement to cross the outer circle. The fastest turtle to cross the outer circle wins a green ribbon, a turtle buck (worth one dollar at any chamber retail business) and an opportunity to race again for big prizes in the championship round. The turtle that, for some unknown reason, chooses not to head out of the inner circle and that ends up closest to the letter “A in the word “Start”. is declared the heat’s “slow poke”. This race participant wins a white ribbon, a turtle buck, and a chance to race again in the slow poke championship round. The victors from the championship rounds are awarded a plethora of prizes provided by merchants.
Come to Longville for a great afternoon of family fun!
All Time Turtle Race Winner Archives!
Above: This was our daughter Grace's first turtle race. Our family has been coming to your area for a little over 40 years now. We have had over 20 kids in the turtle races through the years. Grace has been one of the youngest. Her birthday is March 2, so she was about 3 months in the picture. Her turtle won her heat!! Thank you for all of the wonderful memories you have provided us! We look forward to being there every year. David and Mandy