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Annual turtle derby coming soon

Children enjoy a recent Turtle Derby, which organizers hail as a family friendly event. People of all ages gather each year to enjoy the free festivities. This year’s event will be on Friday, June 4. File photos by Tamas Mondovics

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Rural small towns have a variety of activities unique to them. One such event in Johnson County is the annual turtle derby, and it is that time again. The 18th Annual Turtle Derby will be on Friday, June 4, at the Ralph Stout Park bandstand, 210 South Church Street in Mountain City, starting at 6 pm. This free event brings families together to cheer on live turtles as they race towards the finish line.

One of the competing turtles from a previous Turtle Derby at Ralph Stout Park reaches the finish line in first place. File photo.

“Have you been cooped up by Covid?” organizers exclaimed. “It’s time for the Turtle Derby then! The turtles are busy in training for their races, but they will need lots of encouragement, so come prepared to have a lot of fun cheering your turtles on to the finish line.”

Each person who attends will receive a number that matches one of the racetrack lanes. Whoever has the number corresponding to the winning turtle per race will receive a door prize. The final winning turtle, known as the Grand Champion Racer, will be decided through a final run-off race.

The Johnson County Tennessee Lions Club sponsors the Turtle Derby each year. In previous years, this event’s host was the former city mayor and Lions Club member Kevin Parsons, who passed away unexpectedly near the end of 2020. Many locals will remember his commentary during prior events and may feel a little bittersweet seeing someone new take on the role. At the time of this article, there is no news on whether officials plan to honor Parsons at the event. 

About the Lions Club
The local Lions Club focuses on helping the less fortunate and improving the community. Its members pride themselves on contributing towards developing the local pool and first ballpark at Ralph Stout Park. To learn more about the local chapter, visit the Johnson County Tennessee Lions Club Facebook page.