is a popular event in the Central United States
which is usually held at county fairs
, in which turtles
are placed in the center of a circle
by children and are allowed to walk around until one of them crosses out of the circle. Although there are races where turtles are lined up on a track and others that allow adults to participate, these are the exception rather than the rule.
The turtles are often distinguished by the numbers painted or taped on their shells.
With turtle racing there are three distinct variations; the first, like horse races
, would take place on a track (sometimes circular, other times linear), while the second would start with the turtles all being placed in the center of a large circle, the first to pass outside of it being the winner. The third, unlike either of the previous types, uses artificial, rubber turtles in place of live animals, probably due to animal right activists.
The earliest known turtle race was started at the 101 Ranch in Kay County, Oklahoma in 1924. From old gambling records, it can be determined that this race attracted an average of 3715 turtles every year until it stopped in 1931 due to the great depression. Other early races include a turtle race in Lepanto, Arkansas which was started in 1930 and a race in Kansas which was started in 1932.