Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Racing Minnesota-style!

Sure, Minnesota has horse racing at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. But horse racing seems rather bland – just the same-old, same-old – compared to some of Minnesota’s other offerings.

If you’re not doing anything between September 7 & 9, 2012, why not head over to the small town of Minneota for Boxelder Bug Days, where not only do they have Boxelder Bug Races, but also an Xtreme Golf Ball Roll, a Rubber Duck Race, and a Tug the Bug event. What is “Tug the Bug”? I’m not really sure I want to know.

Sometime in June you can head over to Cuyuna, MN’s Woodtick Inn to participate in their Wood Tick Races. But no cheating; a “wood tick vet” will be on hand to check for juicing!

On Tuesdays during the summer, Pelican Rapids holds Minnow Races. I’m not sure what the prizes are, but I’m guessing they allow pari-mutuel baiting. (Ba-doom chick!)

Jasper, MN holds Goat Races in August. Or at least they used to. I couldn’t find any updated info on this. Perhaps it ended when George Clooney stopped one of the goats’ hearts with his psychic ability.

Both Luverne and Wayzata, MN hold a variation of Dachshund Racing – Luverne in July during Hot Dog Night, and Wayzata as part of their James J. Hill Days in September.

 The most popular form of non-horse animal racing in Minnesota, however, seems to be turtle racing. It’s particularly popular in resort towns during the summer – a way to gather vacationers into a small town business district for some fun, frolic, and cash-parting.

Longville has been designated (by the MN State Legislature, no less) as the ‘Turtle Racing Capital of the World’.  My family even attended this event for an article I wrote for American Road Magazine, and it is quite the shindig, with a carnival atmosphere throughout the town’s main street. These are held every Wednesday throughout the summer.

Nisswa, which claims to be the ‘Original’ home of the turtle race, also holds them on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Nisswa is a fun little town near Brainerd, and has a lot of cool little shops up and down its main street, including Turtle Town Books & Gifts (formerly Rainy Day Books.) I used the Nisswa turtle races for a little background in my mystery short story ‘Leave No Wake’ which originally appeared in the Resort to Murder anthology.

Another place to catch Wednesday turtle races (what’s with Wednesdays?) is in Perham – and according to their website, these are ‘International Turtle Races’. I’m not sure if they mean that the turtles are from other countries, or the visitors are.

Battle Lake turns turtle racing on its (well-protected) head by holding their races on Thursdays and Saturdays. I’m guessing this is to capture those turtle racing addicts who can’t get enough of it from the merely once-a-week offerings of the other towns.

The Annual Turtle Derby is held at the Diehl Hall plaza in June at the University of Minnesota to benefit the U of MN Children’s Hospital. This event raises some serious bucks for a good cause, although again – I haven’t found any current info for this, the last being the 2006 article I linked to. Anyway, I’m suddenly jonesing for some turtle soup.

So...if you like your races slow and/or whacky, come on over to Minnesota and place your bets!

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