I could have attended the outhouse races for the first 19 years it was held in the small town my family now lives in, but I never did, and I don’t know why. But, last week, in the 20th year of the races, I finally made it to see outhouses being raced down Main Street.
I know, when most of you read that phrase “outhouse races” you thought of people running to the outhouse, which, for those who may not know, is an outside bathroom. No, they do not race to the bathrooms. They race the bathrooms.
I wasn’t sure I would make it (snort make it) after holding a yard sale all day that day, but I pushed myself and made it downtown to watch the homemade outhouses on wheels raced down Main Street with what the local, weekly, paper reported was about 2,000 other spectators looking on.
Our small town has a population of approximately 600 people, and I believe all 600 people might have been there on Main Street, with exception of a few, including my neighbor who was wiped out from holding her second yard sale this summer. In addition to those people, there were another 1,500 or so (though I think there was less, really) from outside the area, including people who camp at cabins in the county. Our county is a tourist attraction of sorts in the summer, with many traveling from downstate to rent cabins in the beautiful forests that surround the few little towns.
I could have walked downtown but my feet were absolutely throbbing from standing on them all day (after joining my neighbor and trying to hold a yard sale on my own), so my husband drove me and the kids down where we waited for 40-minutes for the races to start.
The outhouse races started in our small town in 2000. According to an article in our local newspaper this week, the event started at the suggestion of a man from town named Spencer Davis who read about a small town in Michigan that raced outhouses set on skis across a frozen lake. Spencer and his wife, Barb, brought the idea up at a local Lions Club meeting. After some discussions, it was decided that the races here in Pennsylvania would be added to the other events of Founder’s Day, held the second Saturday in August every year and that the race wouldn’t be on a frozen lake.
The members of the Lions Club decided the outhouses would be pushed by four people and one person inside it to steer. That setup has remained the same all these years.
The outhouses are often sponsored by local businesses or organizations, hence the logos and paintings on the side.
Before the race started, the teams pushed their outhouses to the top of the course and paraded down Main Street, waving at their fans.
There were six teams this year.
They raced two at a time until they narrowed the final race to the two teams with the best times.
I waited for the local paper to see if they would write about the drama that happened at the finish line of the one heat, but they didn’t, so I’m still not sure what happened. All I know is there were a few shouts of “Oh!” and the announcer said something about one team having seconds deducted from their final time.
The kids and I were at the other end, where the turn around the center circle was, so we missed all the drama. My son’s friend thought the team might have been penalized for their language, which wouldn’t have surprised me since when I tried to record that team, one of the members screamed out an expletive (the big one with the word mother in front of it). Usually, the event is very family-friendly, so that was a bit of a fluke.
Another fluke was the parking meter collection box full of wasps next to us that a person discovered halfway through the races. Thankfully only a couple of wasps came out and then flew back in again. Then there was the poor guy on the one team who pulled a hamstring or something. He limped the rest of the way down the street while we all winced and hoped he didn’t do any major damage.
My legs gave out before the final race, so we actually didn’t see who won, but the town paper reported yesterday that a team called Team Nutz won and also won the 3 on 3 basketball tournament. They participated in all their activities in memory of a former teammate who had won previous races with them, possibly the first-ever outhouse race, if I remember correctly from what a neighbor told me.
They have won nine out of the 20 races held throughout the years, according to the paper, including the last four in a row. Honestly, I had no idea when I saw the team that they were the returning champions. Some of the other teams seemed more polished at first (as far as their designs) but Team Nutz brought it home in the end and donated their monetary earnings to the scholarship in their late teammate’s name.
Overall, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, no matter who took home the final prize.
I do regret that I missed out on voting for the painted toilet seat covers, but according to the paper the auction of the toilet seats (clean before they are painted, as far as I know!) brought $1,500 for the county library.
(The toilet seat cover images were downloaded from the library’s Facebook page.)
Next year, I won’t be hosting a yard sale so I will be able to go down and see the keg races as well as the outhouse races.
Next up in our rural area? The county fair in two weeks, which is sure to include some other unique, slightly redneck, activities. And, yes, I’ll be sure to grab some photos there as well.