Jubilee Days- Turtle Race Continues Quirky Tradition

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Chuck Allcorn, chairman of the Jubilee Days Committee, says the Turtle Races have been held during every one of the 52 years of Jubilee Days, and they are the most fun and organized chaos a person can experience. Rich Long of Edwards,  said he has enjoyable memories of the races from the 1970s, when he was a kid; now every time he sees a turtle he thinks of Jubilee Days.
JoAnn Glowczewski, Warsaw librarian, said she remembers big crowds of people when she used to take her sons to the turtle races in the 1980s.
“The streets were crazy with kids and people,” she said. “But it was a world of fun, and my sons were even pictured in the newspaper when their turtles won a race.”
Allcorn, who is overseeing the turtle races, as well as many other aspects of Jubilee Days, said he knew one guy who entered his daughter in the turtle races after practicing for the event in his back yard. He and his daughter would get four turtles and race them at home before Jubilee Days. The turtle who won races at home was the one entered in the race in town.
There are different ways to stage a turtle race. One popular way is to put the turtles in the middle of a large circle and the first one to cross out of the circle is the winner. It is pretty traditional during Jubilee Days to place the turtles against a curb and let them race towards a chalk line on the other side of the road. This years race will begin at the curb in front of the old UMB building on Main Street, at 9 AM on Saturday, June 9. They will race toward a chalk sprayed line on the other side of the street. 
“We have spotters who will look for the first three turtles who cross the line, but the race will not end until all turtles have had a chance to stay in the race,” said Allcorn. “If we stop the race after the first three win, it disturbs the other turtles and they may stop moving. We also ask parents and grandparents who are cheering on their favorite turtles to stand about four or five feet back from the race so they do not scare the turtles.”
Allcorn said there will be six classes of races. The classes will be for 0 to 2 years, 2 to 4 years, 4 to 6 years, 6 to 8 years, and one for 8 to 10 years old. There are usually about 20 to 25 kids per race, and a total of about 120 racing turtles. There will be gift cards for winners from Subway, Sonic, and McDonalds.  There will also be medallions on a ribbon necklace for those in first, second and third place. Entrants must bring their own box turtle. No other type of is eligible. Lately, the turtles have ranged from two to 15 inches in diameter.
 “At the end of the races, someone is assigned to gather the turtles and take them to a safe habitat near the river,” said Allcorn. “It is a better alternative than a family having to put the turtle in a hot car while they take in other activities during Jubilee Days.”
The Missouri Department of Conversation website states that most people find it better to keep a turtle during the summer and release it in early fall in the same place where it was captured. However, box turtles and all native wildlife are reported to be much better off if left in the wild. Some suggestions that were listed at the site as ways to help turtles are as follow.
•Don’t adopt or buy turtles for pets. They require special care and can live well over 40 years.
•Don’t shoot turtles for sport. It’s illegal, and it pressures an already stressed group of animals.
•Be careful when you drive, especially in spring and summer when box turtles are mating, nesting, and dispersing. If you can do so safely, stop and help a turtle cross the road. Always move the turtle in the direction it is headed.
•Create habitat areas around your home or farm. These include wetlands and wooded, shrubby, and grassy natural habitat.