Tillsonburg’s 5th Annual Turtlefest
Patricia Phelps, the Curator of Annandale Historical Site & Museum, was the brainchild behind Tillsonburg's Turtlefest who reported that “Leamington can have tomatoes and Weirton can have Willy, Tillsonburg can have George T.” While researching for topics about 15 to 16 years ago, a newspaper article from 1890 was found reporting how George Tillson, the founder of Tillsonburg, Ontario, stated he would return as a turtle after he died to see how his town prospered. Mr. Tillson died in 1864. According to the newspaper article, a large turtle was found at the Tillson homestead - located off Vienna Street - which a man could stand on. They named the turtle George T and he was put in a cage and displayed to the public.
Patricia Phelps felt the turtle George T should be resurrected and a Committee was struck 6 years ago. As a result, Tillsonburg has been celebrating Turtlefest for 5 years. The three-day long festivity brings over 1,000 people to Tillsonburg with events occurring at various sites throughout the town including the Annandale Historical Site & Museum. This year's event occurred from June 19th to the 21st.
Children’s author, Jan Everett, explained how she wrote and illustrated her book Never Give Up as a surprise birthday present for her husband John. The children’s book is about how John tries to save turtles by helping them cross the road. John explained to a group of young children that an underground tunnel was built, the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project, "putting him out of business" for all crawling critters, including snakes, use the tunnel to cross the road. Never Give Up is Jan Everett's first book that she wrote two years ago. She has sold over 500 copies which has been an inspiration to cancer survives but "the book is for everyone" Jan says. The book sells for $9.99.
Amanda is a Secret Agent for the U-Belong Initiative with her bunjo chairs. The goal is to encourage people to sit and chat to get to know one another. "Oxford County is one, we are not Tillsonburg, Woodstock or Ingersoll we are all Oxford County. We need to break down the barriers from where we live." The idea came from the Buddy Bench that a child in the United States came up with. Bunjo chairs will be at all events and festivities throughout Oxford County; it made its debut at Turtlefest.
Angie Schoen, is a Wildlife Custodian from Turtle Haven, a non-profit organization dedicated in protecting and providing shelter to turtles and tortoises, explained how pet stores do not report that the cute tiny green turtles grow to the size of dinner plates. Red-Eared Sliders are turtles sold in pet stores that owners tend to release in the wild after 5 years when they grow big and smell. However, Sliders are invasive turtles that are no match for our native Midland Painted Turtles once in the wild. Seven out of 8 species of Ontario turtles are at risk with 2 listed as endangered. As a result, Angie encourages people to call 519-264-2440 when an injured and/or dead turtle is found.
A lot of interesting fact sheets were available at the Ontario Wildlife Rescue table. Animal rescuers, Dana and Josh specialize in providing care to injured animals and amphibians that can include owls, turtles and even skunks to reptiles. Laurel Beechey from Tillsonburg is known as The Skunk Lady who cares for injured skunks. Dolly is a licensed educational animal under MNR that is de-sprayed.
Otterville's Mini-Splash Pad
June 20th marked the official opening of the mini-splash pad at Otterville Park and naming of the park. Members from the Otterville Optimist Club, the Friends of the Otterville Park and the Otterville fire fighters all helped to organize and fund-raised for this project. Don King reported that after finding out in 2012 that the wading pool would be coming out, plans were made to have it replaced. “When something needs to be done it gets done” Don said of Otterville residents.
The Trillium Foundation gave a $30,000 grant to cover the $70,000 costs. With various sprayers, the min-splash pad is intended for small children to use. Aside from the splash pad being added, benches and landscaping were installed as well as paving stones with donor’s names on them were around the edge of the pad.
Gallery of pictures from the 5th Annual Tillsonburg Turtlefest & Otterville's Mini-Splash Pad Opening. (NOTE: Guardians' consent and approval was obtained to photograph their children.)