On June 19, a proclamation was issued in the city that declared the opening of the Turnfest. As it was proclaimed, “Cincinnati, famed the world over for the successes of her expositions and dramatic and musical festivals, has had no opportunity to see so magnificent a festival as that which has been prepared under the popular title of the North American Turnfest.” A parade on the 24th of June was coupled with a general holiday in the city. Workshops, factories, and stores all closed in honor of the Turners.
From around America, Turners journeyed to Cincinnati to take part in this ethnic Olympiad. The Turner phrase, “Gut Heil!” or “good health,” embodied the spirit of the festival. The Turnfest also represented how closely tied the development of athletics was to the development of the American urban environment.
Visitors for the festival were welcomed at the train depot by volunteers wearing straw hats and the Turner emblem. From there, the festival goers were escorted to the registration headquarters on West Eighth Street, and then to the special Turnfest stadium that was constructed on Government Square.