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It's turtle time! Perham's Turtle Fest is underway

Perham's fun, festive summer celebration for the whole family, June 14-22

It’s the ultimate in family fun: kids’ games, a big parade, train rides, a magic show, turtle races and so much more.

It’s nine full days of activities, planned to please all ages and interests.

It’s Turtle Fest. And it’s back in Perham for its 30th year.

“It’ll be a good time for people,” said Dan Schroeder, executive director of the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce. “Coming to Perham, coming to experience our way of life, coming to our lake area, and then having this summer celebration on top of that... it’ll be a good time.”

The chamber has resumed a leadership role with the festival after handing the reins over to a group of volunteers a few years ago. Turtle Fest was later taken over by the Perham Lions, who last year chose to scale back their involvement.

For a short time, the fate of the festival was unknown. What was known was that it was going to take the full support of the community to ensure Turtle Fest’s future. Perham was called to action – and it answered. Business owners, civic organizations and individual residents got behind this summer’s festival, helping to organize activities and making donations to ensure Turtle Fest’s success.

“The community has stepped up for their summer community event,” said Schroeder. “We’re very thankful to our community for stepping up, not only financially, but also to the groups who stepped up to coordinate some of the events.”

The result of those efforts is a nine-day-long festival as chock-full of events as ever, with many old favorites returning, and promising new things planned.


Pet Parade

United Way of Otter Tail County has come up with a new way for kids to have fun, be creative, interact with animals and other people, and all while raising money for a good cause.

The first-ever Pet Parade, taking place during Turtle Fest’s Grand Parade (more on that later), will feature families and their pets – dogs, rabbits, ponies and other domesticated animals, except for cats, which are excluded.

Many of the pets will be donned in full costume, and owners can win prizes for categories such as ‘Most Unusual Pet’ and ‘Best Overall Costume.’ There will also be an award for ‘Best Stuffed Animal Display,’ as stuffed animals may also be entered.

It’s an event-within-an-event that promises to be as much fun for the spectators as the participants.

Animals are required to be reined, leashed or caged, and must be well trained and socialized.

Proceeds from the entry fees will go toward United Way’s Imagination Library.

Vintage Motorcycle Show

Local man Paul Buendiger, who in the past has participated in an annual motorcycle ride as a fundraiser for Dreams for Kids, will this year be holding a vintage motorcycle show instead, with help and support from his wife, Kaie.

Funds raised at the show will go to the local children’s charity, just as funds raised from the ride did.

The show will feature at least 50 vintage bikes, 25 years old or older, including some unusual, unique or smaller bikes – “stuff that you don‘t see every day on the street,” according to Buendiger.

The bikes will come from all around the region, and will be in various conditions. Some may be for sale.

The bikes will be on display throughout Turtle Fest, June 14-22, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, in the old Greenspire building next to Brew Ales and Eats on Main Street. People are invited to stop by any time. A $5 entry fee is requested, and additional donations will be accepted.

More new stuff

The two museums in town will be getting in on Turtle Fest this year, offering a Kids’ History Mystery Tour, geocaching through a ‘maze’ and a community photography and essay contest/exhibit.

One of the featured Turtle Fest events at the In Their Own Words History Museum will be a dance and concert by Patrick Murphy, a Perham High School student and pianist/vocalist. Murphy will perform with his full band on Thursday, June 19 at 7 p.m.

The winner of Minnesota State Fair’s County Fair Talent Contest in 2010, Murphy has been performing around the area since he was 12 years old. The Perham Lions will be offering food, beer and wine coolers at the concert, with proceeds benefiting Camp Casey, a horseback riding program for kids with cancer. The suggested donation for admission is $6 per person or $10 per couple, and includes a chance to win door prizes.

The veteran’s museum will also be hosting a special World War II exhibit, kicking off with an opening reception on Friday, June 13 at 7 p.m.

At the history museum, a bean bag tournament will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 14. The top three teams will win cash payouts. Games will be held in the park area outside the museum.

Perham retail businesses will also be getting more involved with Turtle Fest this year, offering a prize drawing for those who shop at participating stores June 2 through 21. Shoppers will be able to sign up to win $500 in Perham Bucks at participating retailers. The lucky winner will be announced by June 23.

Also taking part in the festivities will be Heart of the Lakes Elementary School. The school will host a children’s obstacle course to raise funds for a new playground, scheduled to be installed in late July. For $5 per child, or $10 per family, kids up to grade six can run through the course. Every child will receive a medal, a bottle of water and a Goose Gang token for participating. The course will be open for one hour, from 5-6 p.m. on Thursday, June 19.

While not a new event for Perham, the Miss Perham Pageants will be new to Turtle Fest this year. The pageants will take place at the Perham High School auditorium on June 21, at 7:30 p.m. A new Miss Perham, Miss Heart of the Lakes and Miss Perham’s Outstanding Teen will all be crowned.

Other new events will include Chinese Yo-Yo and Kendama (Japanese toy) demonstrations, an ice cream social, a magic show by local magician Nick Bretz (a.k.a. ImagiNick) and a scavenger hunt golf game.

A Farmer’s Market will be going on Wednesday, June 18, and the city-wide garage sale will be held Saturday, June 21.

Before and after the grand parade on Friday, June 20, from 4:30-11:30 p.m., the Perham Area Jaycees will be hosting a beer garden at the park on Main Street, just down the road from City Hall. Brats and potato chips will also be available.

The Perham Classic Cruise-In will also be going on that Friday evening, with area classic car enthusiasts bringing their ‘toys’ to town and talking shop.


Grand Parade

Every year, the parade is the icing on Turtle Fest’s cake.

Consistently featuring 80-100 floats and big trucks, costumed characters, marching bands and plenty of other fun-loving participants, the parade is always sure to please people of all ages.

This year’s parade will feature three area high school marching bands, appearances by Victor the Viking and some Vikings cheerleaders, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Super Hero Word Girl, and a chance for spectators to win WE Fest tickets through a cell phone competition.

“It’ll be bigger and better than before,” said Tyler Krumweide, the leading organizer of the parade. “Come out, relax, enjoy the parade and shop Perham.”

The parade route will be the same as last year, starting at Perham High School and making its way past St. Henry’s Area School before heading toward 8th Avenue SW via 3rd Street SW.

It starts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 20.  

Medallion Hunts

Amateur sleuths enjoy this annual ‘treasure’ hunt around town, which offers seekers the chance to win cash prizes.

This year, two medallions will be hidden in separate locations around town, for two separate hunts. The first hunt will kick off at noon on Saturday, June 14, with the second beginning Wednesday, June 18.

Clues to where the medallions are hidden can be found online at, or heard on the radio at Lakes 99.5FM. The hunts will last until the medallions are found.

The first people to find the medallions will each win $500.  

Turtle Races

At the heart of Turtle Fest are its Turtle Races. The races, which started in 1978, were so popular that they became the inspiration behind Turtle Fest.

Held every Wednesday all summer long at Turtle Park in downtown Perham, an extra race time will be held during the festival. Races will start at 10:30 a.m. (registration at 10 a.m.) on Wednesday, June 18 and Friday, June 20. 

Art in the Park and $10,000 Giveaway

Artists and crafters from around the region will display and sell their handmade wares outside the Perham Center for the Arts on Friday, June 20, all day. There will be live music on the grounds throughout most of the day.

The Perham Center for the Arts is also again sponsoring a $10,000 prize drawing. Raffle tickets are limited, and are $100 each. They may be purchased at the Perham Chamber. The winning ticket will be drawn and announced prior to the parade on June 20. Funds raised go to the arts organization. For more information, call Fran Johnson at 346-4466. 

 Arvig Summer Fun Event

Arvig, a Perham-based telecommunications company, always draws a large crowd with this annual community event, which features food and activities for kids. It will be taking place this year from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, at 2nd Avenue SW.  

Perham Express Train Rides

This ever-popular touring ‘train’ and its friendly conductors will offer free rides around town on the Wednesday, Friday and final Saturday of Turtle Fest, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Just head to Main Street and you can’t miss it.  

More returning favorites

Many of the old crowd-pleasers will be back again this year, including a demolition derby, Props Over Perham Fun Fly featuring remote-controlled airplane demonstrations, community breakfasts, sports tournaments, and an American Idol-inspired singing competition.

Visit the Perham Chamber's website at for a full, updated list of Turtle Fest events

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

(218) 346-5900 x222