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Slow and steady; Turtle races underway in Perham

From left, Tait, Jaden, Ali and Rylan Bormann of Perham cheer on their turtles during this year's first turtle races. Sam Benshoof/FOCUS1 / 3
Christine Berton of Perham watches her turtle take off in the wrong direction at the first Turtle Races of the summer on June 1. Sam Benshoof/FOCUS.2 / 3
Grace Wallgren of Perham hits her bucket against the ground to get her turtle to go faster at the June 1 turtle races. Sam Benshoof/FOCUS.3 / 3

Last week brought the first true sign of summer to East Otter Tail County. Not lakes or sunshine, but racing turtles.

Locals came out on top June 1 during the first international turtle race of the summer.

Sixty-six racers showed up for the sunny Wednesday race, representing 11 states, including South Carolina, Alaska and Nebraska, to name a few. In the end, local racers pulled through, with the grand prize going to Anna Burton of Perham. Grace Wallgren of New York Mills came in second, followed by Isadora Winkle of Perham in third.

The crowd was a mix of veteran turtle racers, along with first-timers.

It was the first time racing for Macy Wynn, 3, and Brenna Camacho, 2, both of Wadena.

Macy said her favorite part of the race was letting the turtle go, while Zoie Hachstein, a veteran 3-year-old racer, said she liked receiving the toy.

Perham Mayor Tim Meehl and Miss Perham Brittany Bachmann were the emcees for the races, which will run every Wednesday in summer from 10 a.m. to noon in the courtyard of the Perham chamber building.

With the races off and running, a new and improved Turtle Fest is right around the corner. Under the new leadership of the Perham Lions Club, this year's Turtle Fest has many new activities and events to complement old favorites.

The festivities will run from Saturday, June 18 to Sunday, June 26 See next week's edition of the East Otter Tail Focus for a full schedule of events.