Children cheer on and root for their favorite shelled-participant during the 16th Annual Lions Club Turtle Derby. The event was a great success and has crowned ‘Farm Bureau’ as its grand champion. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

It was a beautiful evening for racing as young and old alike filtered into Ralph Stout Park for the 16th Annual Johnson County Lions Club Turtle Derby.
The championship race featured the top ten fastest winners from each of the 15 races.
Finishing in record time and leaving the rest of them in the dust by crossing the final heat in just under 24 seconds, the turtle named Farm Bureau, sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance in Mountain City was crowned the 2019 “Turtle Derby Grand Champion.”
By the numbers, the average speed of the winner from each of the 15 races was just under 23 seconds.
The fastest turtle crossed the finish line of the 16-foot-long track at a lightning fast speed of 11.5 seconds, while the longest time that a race took to determine a winner was 39 seconds.
For 16 years, turtles have raced on the track to improve the vision for many in Johnson County.
Event organizers emphasized that the hard-shelled participants may be slow, but the race as the Lions Club’s largest fundraiser of the year helps raise the money necessary to provide vision screening and eyeglasses for those who need corrective lenses but who are unable to afford vision tests or glasses.
Area businesses that sponsor turtles also provided door prizes, which were awarded throughout derby.
The proud owners of new bicycles donated by Joe
Herman of Herman Trucking and Dewayne Landers, were Jay Young, Sydney
Nicholason and London Nicholason.
In addition to the derby, the Club also raises funds by selling high-quality brooms and mops.
The local Lions Club was instrumental in the construction of the pool in Mountain City. They are also responsible for the display of American flags in the downtown area for several holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day. In addition, the Club supports National Lions Club projects such as leadership dog training and disaster relief.
“We currently have six active members but would love to have more as we face the same challenges as other service clubs across the country,” event organizer and Johnson County Lions Club member Kevin Parsons. “We need more people to help carry on some of the things that we are doing.”
The Lions Club meets at Lois’ Country Cafe on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at 7 p.m.
“We wish to thank all of the volunteers who assisted
with the Derby, the friends and businesses who sponsored turtles or donated door prizes, the members of our community who attended the event and The Tomahawk for its help promoting it,” Parsons said. We also wish to thank all who filled the bleachers at Ralph Stout
park for an evening of enjoyable clean fun and made the event a great success. We look forward to crowning more turtle champions next year.
The Johnson County Lions Club meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at Lois’s Country Cafe at 7 p.m. Those interested in learning more about the Club may call 727-8817 or 727-4119.