Turtle race enchants children

Darrian Davis, 2, left, and his sister, Skylar Davis, 9, both of Clovis, watch their turtles crawl around after Saturday’s turtle race at the Curry County Fair. Photo by Eric Kluth.

By Janet Bresenham

Three-year-old Glen Southard jumped up and down and shouted, “Go, go, go, go, go!” as he watched his turtle crawl toward the top of a heat Saturday morning at the Curry County Fair’s 4th annual Turtle Race.
The race got off to as fast a start as a turtle race can, with dozens of children putting their turtles into the ring for a chance at $1,000 in cash prizes.
Starting from an inner circle in the dirt, groups of turtles were released to see which one could make it to the outer circle first, second, third and fourth in each heat leading up to the finals.
Shay Dow, 9, had one of those turtles that couldn’t quite figure out what to do.
“The turtle race was good, but mine didn’t win anything,” she said. “My turtle just stayed in the middle and only moved a little.”
Although Southard’s turtle — named both Butch and Patches — from a pasture near Melrose did not make it into the final four, his 10-year-old sister Jill hugged him and repeatedly told him, “I’m so proud of you.”
Jett Sours, 14, of Grady ended the morning winning the turtle race and $500 in his first try.
“I just kept it in a bucket and didn’t mess with it much,” he said. “I found it in a pasture near my house.”
And his plans for his big winnings?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Save it. Spend it.”
Five-year-old Keaton Greenwalt of Melrose said he had a special diet that might have helped his turtle finish second and win him $300 despite a cracked shell.
“We fed it grasshoppers every day,” he said.
Grady resident Brooke Bailey — who was celebrating her 14th birthday Saturday — said her preparation helped her turtle come in third overall, with a cash prize of $150.
“My Grandpa picked it up for me on the road,” she said. “I didn’t let it out, so it just wanted to get back out of the box.”
The fourth place turtle brought $50 for Jadee Isler.
In the end, all the turtles received the same reward — a return trip to rural country pastures where they can crawl at their leisure.