More than 180 turtles enter races

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis resident Sarah Heller and her daughter Elanna Heller place their turtle for a race in the first round of the 11th annual Great American Turtle Race Saturday at the Curry County Fair.

Liliana Castillo

The fence around the turtle racing ring was lined with children, some who couldn’t see over it, for the 11th annual Great American Turtle Race on Saturday at the Curry County Fair.

The turtle races attracted mostly families with young children and that’s what the event is for, according to event organizer Jan Yonge.

“We have an event to bring families out to the fair to be able to have a family day,” she said. “The fair is more than rides and exhibits.”

Yonge said 185 turtles were entered into the races, meaning 23 turtles raced at a time in the first round. The first four turtles to make it from the center to outside the ring moved on to the next heat. In the end, four turtle-owners won money.

First place won $300, second $200, third $125 and fourth $75.

Sarah Heller and her two year old daughter Elanna Heller raced a turtle but didn’t make it past the first race. The mother said her daughter didn’t mind, she just wanted to see turtles.

“I picked up a fair book and said something about the turtle races and she perked up,” Sarah Heller said. “She loves turtles. She’s big into animals so I figured why not try it.”

Noah Bonney’s turtle won him first place overall. The five year old had little to say but that his turtle was fast.

His mother Jana Bonney said the race was her son’s first.

“We had a turtle last year but it ran away,” she said. “We found one this year and decided to enter.”

Bonney said her son will most likely buy something for his Wii with his winning money.

In the nearby extension building, about 200 seniors enjoyed lunch and awards in honor of themselves at the Old Timers celebration. The event was a collaboration between the Older Adults division, American Legion and the fair board.

Brenda Hankins with Older Adults said the event honors pioneers of the county.

“Some of these guys have been here 80 years. They’ve seen a lot of change and have been instrumental in that change,” she said.

Awards were given for the oldest man and woman, a man and a woman who had settled in Curry County the longest and the person who traveled the farthest to settle in Curry County.

Jean Thomas and her mother Letha Morris attended the event together. Thomas said she enjoyed the seniors being celebrated. Even though the family have lived in Curry County for over 50 years, she had never attended before.

Morris said she enjoyed socializing.

“People meet people they haven’t seen in a while,” she said. “It’s good.”

Curry’s Events Center and Fairgrounds General Manager Kevin Jolley said more people attended the fair this year by Friday than attended all week last year. He said numbers haven’t been totaled but attendance on Monday, Tuesday and Friday was double what it was on the same days last year.