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Turtle race about to begin
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Forsyth County News

Newcomers to Forsyth could be in for a flashback at this afternoon's turtle race.

"I think it would just probably take you back to an era of small town festivities that you may have had as a child, or heard about, or read about," said Van Mashburn LeBlanc, a Forsyth County native.

Several decades ago, she said, the tradition began at Forsyth County Bank.

This year the race will be at 1 this afternoon in the parking lot of the Foster House, off West Main Street.

The day of the race people are invited to bring turtles and turn them loose to crawl in a straight line for about 20 feet. The race could last about half an hour.

This year, said Amanda Davis, owner of The Foster House, said there will be T-shirts for turtle race winners and a $50 grand prize. There is no registration fee.

In the old days, LeBlanc recalled, "They had different divisions for turtles and it was by size, basically. After the parade people just brought their turtles and they had a start and a finish and you just couldn't pick them up."

Catherine Amos is glad to have the turtle race this year, which reminds her of her father, Mark Mashburn Jr., who first made the suggestion. Mashburn was also LeBlanc's uncle.

"It was such a tradition for a long time and then it kind of wavered," Amos said.

Amos recalled that when she was growing up, her family had their own version of a turtle race where the turtles were all dumped out of a basket into the middle of a circle on the ground. The first turtle out of the circle won.

Mashburn passed the custom down to his children and later suggested that the bank host an annual race.

"Some of the turtles don't know how to go in a straight line like that," Amos said.

While it was mostly children that participated in the race, it was still quite the spectacle, she said.

"Oh, and people decorated their turtles," Amos said. "They would paint them and have names for them."

Numbers were usually painted on the shells so people would know whose turtle won.

Like LeBlanc, Amos hopes new residents will participate in the tradition.

"I think they can get in with all the local tradition and feel the flavor of what Forsyth County and Cumming is all about," she said.

"It's a good way to introduce them to what we've been doing all these years. I hope they'll all come because the more the merrier."