56th Annual Turtle Races In Nisswa Bring Community Together
Slow and steady wins the race, but that’s not the case for the 56th annual Nisswa Turtle Races. It’s an event that has been hosted by the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce for quite some time.
“56 years ago, some of the local businessman, and a lot of them are gone now, decided, ‘what is it that we can do to bring people in from the resorts and off the lakes on a nice afternoon in the middle of the week,’ and they started the turtle races,” said announcer and “Turtle Master” Mark Ulm.
A volunteer group gathers the turtles beforehand and then releases them back in their habitat once the races are over.
“The Turtle Wranglers are a volunteer group that is raising money for their group, which is a group that does therapeutic horsemanship for people with psychological and physical needs,” said Ulm.
The rules are simple: the first turtle to get from the start to the finish line first wins, but everyone has their strategies.
“One you got to pick out the right turtle, the louder you cheer, the faster they go,” said Ulm.
“Second, you just have to find out the perfect amount of water to get them to the finish line,” said Turtle Wrangler Theo.
“It gets it kind of like going because they feel the older water is behind them, so they want to get moving to warmer water,” said 2019 Turtle Races Champion Campbell.
For the 2019 champion from California, it’s a day he won’t forget.
“I was just feeling, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t believe I won,’ I got a really cool medal, I haven’t really won a medal before,” said Campbell.
What makes the races so special is that just a few turtles can bring so many people together.
“If you had fun doing it when you were young, you want to bring your kids or grandkids, this is small-town America at its best right here; this is what it’s all about to me, this is family, I love it,” said Ulm.
In the 56-year history of the event, not one race has been canceled, and the Turtle Races are planning to continue next year in Nisswa.