June 13 – Turtle Days

Posted on June 13, 2014

Check out the official website for Churubusco's four-day Turtle Days festival, and you will see that there is a fish fry and an all-you-can eat dinner, a poker run and a cancer walk, a parade and a fireworks show, dances and BINGO, a tractor pull and cornhole tournaments, plus rides and entertainment and loads of food booths.

What does any of that have to do with turtles? you may ask. Well, I left out one activity: a turtle race.

But that one turtle race isn't the reason why this annual festival is held, and it's not why Churubusco, Indiana, is linked in people's minds with turtles.

No, the real reason for the turtle connection is the Beast of 'Busco:

A turtle named Oscar.

A giant turtle, as big as a dining room table.

      A mysterious lake monster!

It all began in 1898, when a man named Oscar Fulk claimed he saw a giant snapping turtle living in a 7-acre lake on his land. Nobody seemed to believe his story. I guess he didn't have the best P.R. people.

Way later, in the summer of 1948, two men out on that same lake claimed that they saw a giant turtle, larger than their boat. They told the current owner of the lake what they saw.

Soon the lake owner spotted the huge turtle, too, and then more and more local people came to the lake, and some of them reported seeing a giant turtle as well. Newspapers and radio began to run stories on the lake monster, and people came from far and wide.

Many people didn't want to just see the beast – they wanted to capture it!

It was a simpler time, I've read – a time when there was no television broadcasts in the area, and certainly no internet! In the winter of 1949 there was a lot of interest in finding the turtle, who had been named Oscar after the original farmer who said he'd spotted the beast. People came up with all sorts of schemes for catching a giant turtle – from nets to traps to contraptions. People even brought up a female sea turtle from Florida to try to lure Oscar (who may or may not have been a female, especially given the fact it may or may not even have existed!!!). But none of the schemes worked.

Either Oscar was one smart turtle...or he / she / it didn't exist. I know which explanation I'd put my money on!

Read more about the hunt for Oscar here

If you live near a lake...

...Think ahead and start a rumor about a lake monster. The fabled Oscar put Churubusco on the map, and of course the Loch Ness Monster made Loch Ness super famous.

You can do the same for your local lake! Start some rumors—the bigger, the better! Your children and your children's children will thank you!

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