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Turtle Fest events underway in Perham

It’s the ultimate in family fun: kids’ games, a big parade, train rides, a magic show, turtle races and so much more.

It’s Turtle Fest. And it’s underway in Perham for its 30th year, continuing through Sunday, June 22.

“It’ll be a good time for people,” said Dan Schroeder, executive director of the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Coming to Perham, coming to experience our way of life, coming to our lake area, and then having this summer celebration on top of that... it’ll be a good time.”

The chamber has resumed a leadership role with the festival after handing the reins over to a group of volunteers a few years ago. Turtle Fest was later taken over by the Perham Lions, who last year chose to scale back their involvement. For a short time, the fate of the festival was unknown. What was known was that it was going to take the full support of the community to ensure Turtle Fest’s future.

Perham was called to action – and it answered. Business owners, civic organizations and individual residents got behind this summer’s festival, helping to organize activities and making donations to ensure Turtle Fest’s success.

“The community has stepped up for their summer community event,” said Schroeder.

One of the featured Turtle Fest events at the In Their Own Words History Museum will be a dance and concert by Patrick Murphy, a Perham High School student and pianist/vocalist. Murphy will perform with his full band on Thursday, June 19 at 7 p.m.

At the heart of Turtle Fest are its Turtle Races. The races, which started in 1978, were so popular that they became the inspiration behind Turtle Fest. Held every Wednesday all summer long at Turtle Park in downtown Perham, an extra race time will be held during the festival. Races will start at 10:30 a.m. (registration at 10 a.m.) on Friday, June 20.

Artists and crafters from around the region will display and sell their handmade wares outside the Perham Center for the Arts all day on Friday. There will be live music on the grounds throughout most of the day.

While not a new event for Perham, the Miss Perham Pageants will be new to Turtle Fest this year. The pageants will take place at the Perham High School auditorium on Saturday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m. A new Miss Perham, Miss Heart of the Lakes and Miss Perham’s Outstanding Teen will all be crowned.

Other new events will include Chinese Yo-Yo and Kendama (Japanese toy) demonstrations, an ice cream social, a magic show by local magician Nick Bretz (a.k.a. ImagiNick) and a scavenger hunt golf game.

Visit the Perham Chamber’s website at for a full, updated list of Turtle Fest events.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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