Wood Turtle Days: Background and history

By Nalani Bever, President

Wilton Wood Turtle Days, Inc.

It is somewhat difficult to understand what all the fuss is about. Whether it was called Wilton Fun Fest or Wilton Wood Turtle Days, festivals are not successful without a tremendous number of volunteer hours. We understand that and did not intend to slight anyone, whether they volunteered two or 22 hours.

But planning a festival begins shortly after the last one is over and requires a considerable time commitment. It is not comforting when it becomes more and more difficult to fill shifts or when folks don’t show-up for their agreed-upon shift. You begin to wonder if the festival has run its course.

We never turned any group or individual away with a new event suggestion, provided they were willing to bring with them the work force. We were also willing to fund the purchase of initial supplies. Case in point — Frisbee golf.

Consideration of trademarking the festival began in early 2020. The local attorney contacted suggested it would be in our best interest to seek an attorney whose practice centered on trademarks and, specifically, nonprofits wishing to trademark their event. This was also around the time the shutdown was ordered in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was not too long before the Wilton Community Center and park were closed for the 2020 season. The 2020 festival was canceled, and the trademarks were secured in March 2021.

We also understand Village President Becky Hahn and others feel our use of funds to secure the trademarks is inappropriate. We purchase liability insurance every year, not only for the protection of the nonprofit, but also for the protection of the Village of Wilton, an additional named insured on our policy. In the same way, we were advised that as a nonprofit, we should protect the trademarks to maintain the integrity and quality of the festival.

There also seems to have been a misunderstanding that the Village government and the nonprofit were one and the same. They are not. Whether the nonprofits were incorporated as Wilton Fun Fest, Inc., or Wilton Wood Turtle Days, Inc., they are distinct from the Village of Wilton. The nonprofit is no different from the Wilton American Legion, Wilton Lions Club, or Wilton Sportsmen’s Club, which are also nonprofit corporations. With the exception of the Wilton Sportsmen’s Club, both the Wilton Legion and Wilton Lions Club were successful in raising monies during the festival, as were the village campground and swimming pool. The bar owners will also confirm a brisk business over the weekend.

The nonprofit made the decision to suspend the festival, but not the race, for 2021 on April 8. We provided the State of Wisconsin trademark certificates to Village President Becky Hahn and Clerk–Treasurer Leigha Barton on Friday, April 23, 2021.

At the meeting on April 28, as a new name was being tossed about, the Village President and/or Clerk–Treasurer reported that the Village Attorney advised they merely had to “tweak” the name. Wilton Turtle Fest was the end result. We needn’t go into the acronym.

When we advised the Village a minor change in the name wasn’t sufficient, we received many personal and hurtful comments, none of which dealt with the real problem.

It is overwhelmingly apparent Wilton will have a festival in 2021. Our nonprofit, the Wood Turtles, will support the festival by the 1/5K event.

The Village Board, through their attorney, requested permission to use the marks (Wilton Wood Turtle Days, Wood Turtle Days, Turtle Days, Turtle image). Our nonprofit provided a Trademark License Agreement granting permission to do so, along with a set of conditions which were intended to preserve the quality and integrity of the festival. The agreement would be for one year with a royalty or fee of $25.

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