VOLIN — This weekend, the main street of one area town will be crowded with people, music and tiny reptiles.
That's because the annual Volin Turtle Races will be taking place this Saturday.
"We want to get the word out to the people who've never come before that they should come and check it out, to see what we've got to offer," said Janet Haas, member of the Volin Turtle Races Committee.
The race itself will begin at noon, but other events are scheduled throughout the day. These include parades, a hay auction, dances and more.
The Volin Turtle Races were inspired by an event that used to be sponsored by the Jaycees, which also provided the painted turtles used in the race.
"(The organizers) went to Nebraska and got them, and you can't do that anymore," Haas said. "You can't go across the state line and (take them). We've got a guy north of town with a pond, and we collect turtles from there."
Participants can bring their own turtles, or use turtles provided by the committee.
"It's a $3 registration whether they bring their own or use one of ours," said committee treasurer Sandy Logan. "All of ours get turned loose again, back out to the pond when it's finished."
The race itself takes place in a big circle on Main Street.
"You'd be surprised how fast some of them can go," Logan said.
"When the road gets hot, they can move pretty quick," Haas added.
The committee members said the festival was brought back five or six years ago as a way community members could get together and enjoy themselves.
"We try to do most of the same things that were done (years ago), that we can remember," said committee secretary Shelly Haas.
However, new events are added periodically, such as the hay auction.
This year will be the first to feature a dunk-tank.
"We've tried the past couple of years, but it never worked out for us, but this year we finally got volunteers to sit in the dunk tank. So hopefully that'll work out," Janet Haas said.
Past festivals have also featured honorees, and this year that distinction is held by Volin Fire and Rescue.
"I think it's very important just to let them know that we appreciate them and all that they've done for our community," said committee member Shelly Jorgensen. They're very important for the community, so that's why we're doing it."
Attendance fluctuates, but has grown steadily as the years progressed.
"It all depends on what kind of day it is," Janet Haas said. "If it's kind of rainy, we mightt not got as many, but lately our crowds have been pretty fair."
Committee vice president Paul Jorgensen said the reason for the event's success is simple: "It brings everybody together."
"You get people from a lot of other communities, like Yankton, Wakonda and Gayville who come to enjoy the day," Janet Haas said.
"You get to see people that you don't get to see on a daily basis. It's nice," Logan added.
Planning the event takes the entire year.
"As soon as we get done this year, we'll start planning for next year," Janet Haas said. "The date is a big thing, because when we contact vendors, they need a good six months in advance so that they know where they're going and what it is. We try to give them as much of an advance as we can."
Volunteers are always needed, and interested persons can contact any of the committee members for more information.
"It's a community thing. We want to get as many people involved as we can," Haas said.