Just outside of Andersonville, tucked between a fur seller and a gas station along Foster Avenue, is Big Joe’s. It’s your standard dive bar, plenty of dart boards, PBR on tap and bags of chips for sale (no kitchen, of course). But there is one thing that sets it apart: Friday night turtle races.
For every drink you buy at the bar, you get a certain amount of raffle tickets. If your number is called, you get to go up and pick a ping-pong ball out of a bag with the number of your turtle on it. There’s no actual betting involved, just lots of drinking.
This isn’t the equivalent to cockfighting or anything, though it does sometimes seem like the turtles might die before they make it to the red (and us along with them!). To keep it moving along, the MC will eventually call it if the turtles just aren’t moving. First place gets a free turtle racing T-shirt; last place get a drink on the house. (Spoiler alert: Last place is always Yolanda) I did eventually get picked, but my turtle, Lucky Dan, came in an unlucky second.