Some say it was meant to be while others say it all started the day local radio personality Carl Gooding challenged anyone listening to a “Cooter” Race in the “Cooter Bowl” … for first time contestants and or fans the “Cooter Bowl” is located in front of the steps of the Allendale County Court House. No matter how it started . . . racing “Cooters” in Allendale County became a reality. April 1984 Allendale County and the world witnessed the First Annual Carolina “Cooter” Race. Carl Gooding and his radio station WDOG, 93.5 FM, along with several local merchants, sponsored the First Annual Carolina “Cooter” Race. Over fifty entries competed to claim the $1000 grand prize and the “World Fastest Cooter” title.
Along with the race, all entries compete for the titles “Smallest Cooter” and “Largest Cooter”. All “Cooters” are sized and weighed. The First Carolina “Cooter Fest Smallest Cooter” weighed in at 4 grams, while the “Largest Cooter” tipped the scales at 25 pounds. There was even a prize given for the “Best Dressed Cooter”.
People laughed then and still laugh now when someone refers to a turtle as a “Cooter” . . . but let’s set the record straight. The term “Cooter” is correct. Cooter is not slang or a crude reference to a turtle. “Cooter” is the term given to a class of turtles composed of 8 species that live in various aquatic habitats. “Cooters” are found chiefly in the Central and Southeastern United States. “Cooters” prefer the quiet waters of canals, lakes and slow rivers with an abundance of vegetation. Most Allendale County “Cooters” are found in ditches or ponds. The name “Cooter” is used in the Southeastern United States while the name “Slider” is used to designate the same group in the Mississippi Valley.