Many events throughout Perham's 2020 tourist season were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including Turtle Fest. However, it's now back for 2021.

Turtle Fest's coordinator, Dan Schroeder, said the city planned for Turtle Fest both in 2020 and 2021 as if everything in town was going to be open even though they weren't able to know whether or not they would be. In 2020, the city wasn't able to utilize these plans. However, things were already starting to look different in 2021.

When the city first started planning 2021's Turtle Fest in January, they were contacted by Explore Minnesota. Schroeder said they were told it was likely everything would be open again by summer time. So, Perham went ahead and planned for Turtle Fest as if everything would be open once again and without cutting back.

"Then, everything did become open," Schroeder said. "It's a great feeling."

The 2021 Turtle Fest will be kicking off on Wednesday, June 16, with the turtle races at 10 a.m. Several new events will also be offered this year along with the festival's traditional events, such as the parade and half marathon.

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Participants of the Turtle Fest Half Marathon take off at the start of the race at Arvig Park in 2017. (File photo)
Participants of the Turtle Fest Half Marathon take off at the start of the race at Arvig Park in 2017. (File photo)

Several of the new activities offered this year will include: more activities on Main Street, famous author William Kent Krueger at the Willow Bookstore, fireworks, multiple bands playing live music instead of just one, and more.

"I'm looking forward to all the people coming back," Schroeder said. "It'll be really neat to see people getting out and enjoying themselves this year."

Turtle Fest will carry on throughout the week until Sunday, June 20.

Schroeder said the best part of Turtle Fest is that it’s all community-organized. He believes it’s something for the community to put on and say, “thank you for doing business in Perham” to both residents and guests.

"Thank you to everyone, locals and visitors," Schroeder said. "The people who put on (Turtle Fest) events understand we need their help to put it on, and it always turns out real well."

Kids rush to pick up candy at Perham's Turtle Fest parade in 2017. (File photo)
Kids rush to pick up candy at Perham's Turtle Fest parade in 2017. (File photo)

The full schedule for Turtle Fest, the parade route and all other information, including clues to the medallion hunt, can be found at perham.com/turtlefest/.