The rain held off and the crowds came out for the third annual Tillsonburg Turtlefest, Friday and Saturday.
Thousands of people took in the sights and sounds of the two-day event at various locations throughout town.
Things got underway Friday evening with a downtown Block Party that included games, music, demonstrations and plenty of food.
The fun and excitement continued Saturday morning as spectators gathered at Lake Lisgar to watch the turtle dragon canoe races to cheer on their favourite team.
“We’re really excited, it’s a perfect day,” said Floyd Marshall, commissioner of the Tillsonburg Sea Scouts and one of the race organizers, along with the Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project committee. “We probably have about 100 spectators out and we were keeping our fingers crossed for Mother Nature to cooperate.
“There are 14 canoes racing this year – it’s tripled from last year,” said Marshall. “We have a lot of good competitors here, the times are all close and we’re having a lot of fun.
“The boats are decorated really well, there are a lot of different groups with different themes and we look forward to even more groups next year.”
Over at the Station Arts Centre, children and adults kicked off the day with a turtle treats baking contest, which Tillsonburg Councillor Mel Getty thoroughly enjoyed.
“The best part of Turtlefest is being a judge in the baking contest,” he said with a chuckle.
Getty, along with councillors Marty Klein and Deputy Mayor Mark Renaud were just three of several special guests who volunteered to sit in the dunk tank, for a good cause, during the Block Party.
“I was dunked many times,” said Getty. “The person that was being dunked had a choice of what charity money raised would go to - my charity was the Helping Hand Food Bank here in town. For the time that I was on the seat, there was $260 collected for the food bank and that was matched as well, so it was $520. It was very successful.
“There’s one thing we can say today with certainty – you have three more ‘cleaner’ politicians in your town today,” Getty added with smile.
Deb Beard of the Station Arts Centre said it was a busy weekend for all, with plenty of things to do for both children and the adults.
“Today, we’ve got the baking contest,” she said. “We’ve got some wonderful prizes by our local sponsors and businesses and we’ve done it a little differently this year. We’ve got a junior and senior division – 12-and-under and youth and adults are 13-and-over.”
Also keeping families busy were activities at Memorial Park, the Fairgrounds, and Annandale National Historic Site, including games, rides, face painting, crafts, music, super bounce inflatables, an Ministry of Natural Resources education booth, and Peek-a-boo the Tortoise, an afternoon turtle ice tea party, a vintage car show and plenty of entertainment on the rented stage at Memorial Park.
“We’ve also got the turtle geocache adventure going on,” added Beard. “We have 10 clues that participants have to find around town – people use their smart phones and GPS’s to go find them. Then they put them together, submit them by 3 p.m. and we’ve got great prizes to win.
“Then we have the Creative Imaginations Festival up on the green by Kelsey’s this year. It’s a different location, but all the same great stuff and it’s expanded even further. We’ve have about 600 people through the site in about three or four hours.”