Turtlefest adds new attractions

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If you are going to Tillsonburg Turtlefest 2019, you are guaranteed to see something new.


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Many Turtlefest favourites will be returning June 14-16 on Father’s Day weekend, but Turtlefest organizers focused on adding new elements to refresh what has become one of Tillsonburg’s major summer attractions.

It all starts Friday, June 14 with the Downtown Block Party, which begins at 5 p.m. on Broadway. The town’s main street will be filled with merchant booths, food vendors and food trucks, including two Shaw’s ice cream trucks and the Barbecue Gourmet serving beef on a bun and roasted corn on the cob, interactive games, classic car show and new electric vehicle car show, Special Olympics basketball game behind the Rotary Clock Tower, inflatable jousting, and photo booth.

“As Turtlefest has grown, the committee has been listening to what people have said, and they wanted more food choices – so they will get that this year,” said Colleen Pepper, Town of Tillsonburg Marketing and Communications Officer. “We try to do something a little bit different every year, in terms of new acts or other attractions, that make it worth coming to see.”

Attractions new to the Downtown Block Party include three busker acts never before seen in Tillsonburg – Stupendous Silver Sisters Aerial Act (two shows), Hoop You Circus Zone – for anyone who would like to learn some fun tricks with a hula hoop – and Tex Rexman Comedy Cowboy – along with a turtle stiltwalker, axe throwing activity, and climbing wall, which can be used by children or adults.


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“These are all free… just some interesting things to see and do,” said Pepper.

“We have not had axe throwing before, so this is actually really cool. It’s going to be at the corner of Brock Street. It’s a trailer that comes in – sufficiently meshed in.”

The main stage country music acts, beginning at 7 p.m., are Kelsi Mayne, Nice Horse and Friday’s headliner, The Abrams.

A food and drink area will be available, but not in the VIP ticket format similar to earlier Turtlefests.

“There will be a food and drink area right by the stage,” said Pepper. “There may be a $5 cover charge, but it is not a $30-50 ticket as it has been in other years. It’s a licensed food and drink area.”

Opening ceremonies, with Tillsonburg Turtlefest presenting sponsor Shaw’s Ice Cream, will happen around 6:45 at the main stage before the music begins.


Also on Friday, another new addition to Turtlefest 2019 is an outdoor movie at Annandale National Historic Site at dusk. This year’s movie is Lego Movie 2, so bring the family to the front lawn at Annandale House and settle in for some fun.

“This is new, we have not had it on Friday night or at that location before,” Pepper noted. “So when you’re done downtown with your kids, head over to the museum.”

Saturday activities and entertainment shift from the downtown area to Annandale National Historic Site and Memorial Park (fairgrounds), where organizers have added new activities, challenges and entertainment.


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A 3-on-3 basketball tournament is scheduled to take place Saturday on the J.L. Scott McLean Outdoor Recreation Pad. For tournament information contact Shelley Imbeault at 519-688-3009 ext 2247. Team meeting is June 6 at 6 p.m. in the Marwood Room at the Tillsonburg Community Centre.

Four divisions were planned – kids (9-12), youth (13-16), recreation (17-plus) and top flight (17-plus). Teams are guaranteed two games, $60 per kids and youth team, $100 per recreation and top flight team, modeled on the Gus Macker tournament.

Canine Watersports Canada returns for another Turtlefest, where you can watch dogs jump into a pool of water for sport.

Roller skating happens inside the arena.

Stage acts include Forest City Fire Men’s Chorus (1-2 p.m.) and local band Back to the 50s (2-3:30). Danscene will perform from 11-12 p.m. and The Fire Guy from 12-1 p.m. Carver Kings will have an area set up Saturday and Sunday.

Inflatables will be set up for children – and in some cases adults to enjoy with their children, along with the climbing wall, axe throwing and mini putt from the Downtown Block Party.

Creative Imaginations Festival, hosted by Station Arts Centre, is one of the main attractions Saturday with a number of games and crafts for children.

A petting zoo will also be on site.

“Things that children can do with your dad,” said Pepper, noting the new Father’s Day Challenge on Saturday. “If you do four activities with your dad, including things like the striker where you swing your hammer and try to hit the bell – kids and adult size. Or the jousting, adults and kids can do that. And the big inflatable castle maze, if you have a little 3-4 year old you could go through the maze with your kids. One’s a ‘stomper’, you fling the plastic fish into the penguins mouth… it’s fun. You pick four activities, whatever is appropriate for the age of your kids and their interest level, and you get a little stamp.”


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With four stamps and you are entered to win one of three prizes Saturday – a Napoleon Rogue BBQ from Stubbe’s Brand Source (worth more than $900), two tickets for a Blue Jays bus trip (to see Jays vs Yankees), and a weekend of camping from Kettle Creek Conservation Authority.

“It’s Father’s Day weekend, so we wanted to make sure it’s fun for your kids, but have some fun with your dad as well.”

It is not a competition, Pepper stressed. You don’t have to be the fastest, strongest or most creative. Everyone who tries four activities is eligible.

“We tried to find activities that offers an adult level and kid level. We really tried to pick some stuff they can do their your dad, and make a memory with your dad on Father’s Day weekend.”

Station Arts Centre, where the Farmer’s Market will be set up Saturday, will also host its annual Turtley Treats Baking Contest. Details are on the Turtlefest website at

And at Annandale National Historic Site, free children’s activities fill the museum front lawn, and there will be live turtles. ANHS is holding an open house Saturday.

On Sunday, stage entertainment at Memorial Park includes Golden Harps Steel Orchestra 12-1, Markus from Treehouse (children’s singer) 1-2 and Faded Denim 2-4 p.m.

All of the inflatables and interactive games are back on Sunday, from 11-5, plus the roller skating, food vendors, Canine Watersports Canada, Creative Imaginations Festival by Station Arts Centre, petting zoo with small and large size animals, and another new addition to Turtlefest – if time allows – an ORNGE helicopter.

On Sunday, the first 200 dads get in free when accompanied by a child (sponsored by DeGroote Hill).

The Dad’s Day Challenge on Sunday includes a chance to win Jays tickets and camping.

Kinsmen Bandshell Bash

Saturday Turtlefest activities end at 5 p.m., but the Kinsmen Bandshell will be rocking Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. The 2nd Annual Bandshell Bash, a 19-plus event, features two music acts – Practically Hip and Ozone Baby. General admission tickets are $20, doors open at 6:30.

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