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Turtlefest is fast approaching and there is going to be so much going on that I can’t possibly give it justice, you are going to have to watch the paper for all the cool things happening or go online. But I would like to mention just a couple of events which will be held on the lawn of Annandale National Historic Site.

Since it is all about turtles, you might like to know that seven of the eight species of turtles in Ontario are on the MNR Species and Risk or Endangered list. That is a pretty bad fact and you might like to learn how you can help, by coming out to not only talk to Angie the Turtle Lady, but see the variety of real live turtles she is bringing from Turtle Haven Rescue Centre. Plus, you need to meet Peek-a-boo the 50-lb tortoise who will be wandering about the Annandale House lawn to meet you!

Scooter and Dolly, Tillsonburg’s educational skunks will be with me, right beside the turtles so you can learn all kinds of things about wildlife.

Turtlefest is distinctly tied to Tillsonburg’s founder, George Tillson, who said he would come back one day as a turtle to see how his town had progressed. A decade or so after his death a large snapping turtle was found at the Otter Creek. Citizens, recalling George’s prophesy and deciding such a fine big turtle must indeed be George, placed Turtley George upon a wagon and paraded him through the town. A fine tank with water accommodated him while everyone came to visit and celebrate.

Since George and family were buried in our Pioneer Graveyard, on Graveyard Hill (Simcoe & Cedar St.) you can honour his memory by purchasing a green carnation while you are at the Pioneer Graveyard Committee booth. (Located on the other side of the skunks.) Committee members will be there to answer any question you might have about the work being done and planned for this summer. If your family has been in Tillsonburg ‘forever’ you can find out if you may have a relative in the Pioneer Cemetery as well! I will have all the research done so far, there to answer your questions.

Annandale National Historic Site is overflowing with turtley things to do from Turtle Tattoos and face painting, to games, crafts, entertainment, story telling, to a turtle hunt in the house and the Turtle Tea and Ice Cream.

Special guests this year will include Jan Everett reading her own “Never Give Up” children's book, a Turtle Tale starting at 10:30 a.m.

The really big event will be the chance to meet and perhaps get a book signed by Tillsonburg’s Favourite Daughter (2001), Margaret Fishback Powers, who wrote the magnificent poem, Footprints In The Sand. You all know that story of walking the beach with God when things go well, but wondering where He went when your days were bad. You knew He had left as there was only one set of footprints in the sand, yet you find out they were God’s footprints and He was carrying you. I love that poem.

It is the 50th Anniversary of the poem and there are several ways you can celebrate with Margaret. Friday, June 13, from 1-5 p.m. you can visit the Open House of the Footprints Museum and Heritage Home at 15 Denton Ave. in Tillsonburg! Did you even know there was a museum?

On Saturday, June 14, you can walk with Margaret at 9:45 a.m. from 15 Denton Ave., around Lake Lisgar. This is a Walk-A-Thon called Best Foot Forward For Others and the benefits will go to the Blossom Garden Orphanage in Jamaica and the Arthritis Society.

As mentioned above, there is a book signing from 1-3 p.m. at Annandale, by Margaret, and The Dawson Family Singers will also be present to entertain you during the signing.

The Tillsonburg Library Committee who ran the 9th Annual Footprints in the Sand Poetry and Prose Contest (new June 9th deadline), will announce the winners at Annandale NHS at 2:30 p.m. This years submissions use the theme: 'My Town: A Reflection of 50 Years.'

There will be a Footprints Gala Evening, from 5-10 p.m. which included a dinner and live auction at the Lion’s Auditorium in the Community Centre. Margaret and Paul will be there and the guest speaker is David Macfarlane, director of the Billy Graham Association in Canada. Advance tickets of $40 per person are required for the dinner and are available at Sears, Annandale NHS and The Station Arts Centre. Proceeds from the Auction will support Tillsonburg’s Upper Deck Youth Centre. For more information call 519 550 3461.

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