It’s well known that Clay County residents take turtle racing pretty seriously. A lesser known fact is that some turtles take it even more seriously.
Each year hundreds of people gather for the turtle races on The Square during Pioneer Reunion. For weeks beforehand, kids of all ages search county roads and pastures in search of that one turtle that can claim the Champion Turtle title.
This year Charlie Wonder, the 3-yr-old son of Henrietta residents Jason and Erin Wonder, got his racing turtle on a ranch north of town. Charlie was confident the box turtle, Turtle Wonder, was going to be a big winner of the Turtle Race on Sept. 19. He painted a big turquoise C on him and decided a sticker of a dump truck would be an ideal embellishment.
On the day of the race, Turtle Wonder did not emerge victorious among the more than 80 turtles in the tournament style race. In fact, Charlie’s mom says the turtle didn’t even take one step during the race. However, what happened after the race is “the rest of the story.”
Upon returning home, Charlie wanted to keep the turtle in his back yard and play with him. After about 30 minutes in the backyard Turtle Wonder was nowhere to be found. Erin told Charlie the turtle probably went out to the wide open pasture behind their house.
Charlie was sad to lose his buddy but had fun talking about the big race the next Monday with his friends where he attends pre-school at First Baptist Church Child Development Center in Henrietta. Little did Charlie know, Turtle Wonder’s story was yet to be told.
On October 15, some of the FBC CDC teachers at Charlie’s school heard a strange scratching at the front door. When they opened the glass door and looked down, they found a box turtle with a dump truck sticker and a chipped and worn big turquoise C painted on his back. While that would be a puzzling scene to most, one of the teachers, Jade White, remembered seeing Charlie’s turtle at Pioneer Reunion and immediately recognized Turtle Wonder.
Logic would have said the turtle would have gone back out to the pasture, or someone’s nearby back yard or a peaceful garden – not to the glass door of a building, the very building where his owner goes every day. It had taken him 26 days, but Turtle Wonder had traveled over a mile, crossed a major highway and navigated many obstacles to find his racing coach, Charlie. The pair has big plans for next year’s race.
Turtle Wonder obviously subscribes to Aesop’s theory “Slow and steady wins the race.”