TurtleFest will be bigger than ever this year

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Tillsonburg's annual TurtleFest, coming to town June 17-19th, has expanded for 2016.

Bigger than ever, the committee has added new activities and entertainment – especially on the Sunday.

"We want to let everyone know it's a three-day event," said TurtleFest committee member Suzanne Fleet. "Friday downtown, and Saturday and Sunday at Memorial Park. There's going to be more emphasis on Sunday than there was last year."

The idea was to come up with things that appeal to people young and old.

"It's one of the advantages of having a lot of things going on," said Les Anderson.

One of Sunday's highlights will be an ATV bog (mud pit), race and ATV pull, organized by Rick Cox.

"There will be a car show in the park this year, I think that's Saturday," said Anderson, noting they have a different group Saturday from the car show at Friday's Block Party.

"The Lions (Saturday) and Tillsonburg Cruisers (Friday)," Fleet nodded.

The Creative Imaginations Festival returns Saturday, June 18, organized by Tabitha Verbuyst and the Station Arts Centre.

"We're going to have the (Turtley Treats) baking contest again at The Station again," said Fleet.

"The dog show, Canine Water Sports Canada, is back," said Anderson.

New this year is a Nerf Gladiator 'arena,' with obstacles, at the fenced-in Kiwanis diamond next to the Community Centre.

"You bring your own Nerf gun, and buy your Nerf bullets there, or you can rent everything from them," said Anderson.

A skateboarding competition at the skateboard park and three-on-three basketball in the parking lot next to the Community Centre have been added.

Pickleball, organized by Stonebridge and MSC, will be played on the tennis courts.

"We'll have a vendor market Saturday and Sunday (at the park)," said Fleet. "Music on the stage Saturday... and entertainment. We know that One Ugly Cowboy will be one of the acts."

"I think it (music) starts at 11 a.m.," said Anderson.

The Saturday night outdoor movie returns, said Fleet, and the movie is still TBA.

"We haven't picked it yet."

The Tillsonburg Lake Lisgar Water Park opens on the same weekend as TurtleFest, Fleet noted.

The Block Party anchors Friday night's activities on Broadway.

"Entertainment is organized by Easy 101/107.3," said Virginia Armstrong. "There will be outdoor patios and a VIP lounge and there will be tickets available..."

"Soon," Anderson nodded, directing people to TurtleFest's Facebook page for the latest information.

"We have Little Ray's Reptiles, sponsored by The Town Centre," said Armstrong. "Hands On Exotics, and this year they're going to have a kangaroo, in addition to tortoises, turtles and small fuzzies and creepy crawlies. A little bit of everything."

Opening ceremonies will be at Metro Friday night, more information to come.

"We mentioned the Tillsonburg Cruisers Car Show," said Armstrong. "All kinds of activities hosted by BIA merchants on Broadway – we've got some things in the works. It's going to extremely big. A lot of interactive games, too, we have a lot of service clubs coming down Friday night as well."

A silent auction begins Friday and continues through the weekend.

"We have Brent the Fire Guy coming back this year, the guy who did the juggling with the fire. This year we're looking at having some bleachers brought in.

"There will be hula hoopers, and they will be interactive with the audience. We have The Funny Waiter – he does the balancing of plates on poles."

There will be a puppeteer/ventriloquist with a turtle puppet.

"And we also have a stilt walker," said Armstrong, "dressed like a chef."

Fusball returns, she said, sponsored and organized by Sobeys. More details coming.

"There will be basketball inflatables... and more to be announced. We're firming up a lot of things still."

Turtlefest activities will also be held at Annandale National Historic Site where they have live turtles, and games for kids.

Creative Imaginations at Memorial Park on Saturday will include Little Ray's Reptiles, and a display from Ruffins Pet Centre with mascot, dog groomer and animals.

"We're doing our carnival games again," said Tabitha Verbuyst. "Face painting, balloon animals, crafts, and spinning paint art. And our large canvass to paint on.'

"And we've got some other new stuff in the works," said Verbuyst.

For more information, or to get your TurtleFest 50/50 tickets in advance, stop by the TurtleFest office 10-4 Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 200 Broadway, Unit 45 (226-777-5404). Also look to Facebook, the website (www.turtlefest.ca) or Twitter for updates. 

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