Don’t Tip the Outhouse

Fruita, Colorado – September 24, 2021

Two days after the official beginning of fall, Fruita held their annual Fall Festival.  The Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce puts the event together each year (with the exception of 2020 as we all know).  There is a parade on Saturday, but one of the festival’s most anticipated events are the outhouse races.  Entrants from far and near come to Fruita to showcase their outhouse movements.  Wait.  That just does not sound right.  The entrants come to race and to take home one of the coveted prizes.  The first three places receive a toilet paper holder trophy while the last place team garners the golden plunger.  The plunger may not be quite as coveted, but it does come with an ample amount of bragging rights.

The hardware awaiting the winners of the outhouse races.

For the better part of twenty years, Duane Irwin has organized and run the annual event.  This unassuming man does not seek the spotlight.  Regardless, once a year, that is exactly where he finds himself.  He takes it all in stride while focusing on running a better race each time.

Mr. Outhouse Races – better known as Duane Irwin.

This year’s race saw the introduction of the golden thrones.  Something that got rave reviews from the contestants.  More on that later.

Duane on one of the event “thrones.”


The golden thrones ready for racing action.


Even at the races, it is nice to keep things fresh for the next one to enter.

One of the duties Irwin faces is media.  If media are present they seek him out to get a better understanding of the event.  The media in turn push that information out to their listeners/readers.

Duane being interviewed for The Range radio station.

The main sponsor for the outhouse races is Western Rockies Federal Credit Union.  They have been sponsors for several years now.  Their involvement helps ensure a good experience for the racers and the spectators.

Representatives from the sponsor of the races, Western Rockies Federal Credit Union. The trophy is for the most creative team.

One can blame the thin competitor slate this year to COVID last year.  As with so many events across the nation, the outhouse races had to be canceled in 2020.  Even though four teams sought to compete in the 2021 event, there were surely other teams out there that were just not quite comfortable to be out and about yet.  The 2021 teams include Suds Brothers Brewery, Vintage Common, CC Enterprise, and Camilla’s Kaffe.

The Suds Brothers Brewery team.


The Vintage Common team.


The CC Enterprise team.


The Camilla’s Kaffe team.

Irwin makes sure all of the racers understand the rules-of-the-road as it were.  The course is laid out on one city block.  One lane is for the designated blue team and the other lane is for the designated red team.  When racing, each team must stop at the golden thrones.  Those are placed at the mid-way point in the block.  At the golden thrones, the contestant riding in the outhouse must get out, open a four-roll pack of toilet paper, and stack each roll on either the blue plunger or the red plunger.  Following the stacking, the outhouse rider gets back into the outhouse for the next leg of the journey.

Each outhouse team pushes their entry from the golden throne stop to the end of the block.  Once there, the team must turn 180-degrees around a traffic cone.  Like any road trip, there must be a rest-stop.  The outhouse races are no exception to this rule.  The teams must stop again at the “thrones.”  This time the team member in the outhouse must get out, go to the properly designated blue or red lane toilet, lift the lid, grab a roll of toilet paper, sit on the toilet (yes, the cheeks must be in contact with the seat), place the toilet paper on the holder, and finally jump back into the outhouse.

From the rest-stop, the team pushes the outhouse to the pedestrian crosswalk that signifies the start/finish line for the race.  Once the outhouse crosses the line, the rider jumps out one final time, runs to a stand on which there is a cow bell, and rings the bell to signify the finish for that team.

The teams receive last minute instructions.

This year the race was run as a double-elimination event.  That allowed a good amount of time for the competitors to rest before each run.

The reader will find several photographs of the different races below.  Following them is an accounting of how the teams placed at the end of the day.

The first race is off!


Team members pushing hard toward the halfway turn.


CC Enterprise making their way back to the “thrones.”


The next set of racers stopping at the golden thrones.


An outhouse races by.


The Camila’s Kaffe team working to keep the rig going straight.


After making the turn, it is back to the golden throne.


Leaping from the outhouse.


The Vintage Common team on another run.


The feet seem to barely touch the ground.


Don’t tip the outhouse!


Shortly after the start, CC Enterprise is pulling out to a lead.


The task of stacking the toilet paper on a plunger.  Note the red and blue handled plungers.


Shouldn’t the door be closed for privacy?!


Flying through the air.


One last stop at the “throne.”


Hopping out of the Vintage Common outhouse.


Racing back to the outhouse.


Neck and neck in the final race.


Still very close, even after the halfway turn.


Yet another leap.


The final stop at the “thrones”.


Vintage Common with the lead.

Even with the “crash” at the end, the Vintage Common team won the final race and the overall event.  Second-place went to CC Enterprise.  The Suds Brothers Brewery came in third while Camilla’s Kaffe wound up with the golden plunger.  The teams may be tired after the races, but they will no doubt make another showing next year to try to claim that first-place toilet paper holder trophy!

A team member from Vintage Common falls trying to grab the cowbell to signal the end of the run.

The parade Saturday morning helps kickoff the second day of the festival .  There were several political entrants in the parade, but then there are elections coming up later this year.  The few photographs below represent the writer’s favorites.

A brightly colored Mesa County Sheriff’s vehicle.


People visiting the vendors on Aspen Street before the parade begins.


The Mesa County Sheriff’s vehicle in the parade.


Horses pulling a wagon from Absolute Prestige Limousine Service.


The mascot of the Fruita Monument high school football team.


There’s no place like Fruita!


One of several Shriners clowning around.


Political dog.


A 1936 Ford Phaeton.


A 1958 Ford F-100.


Latigos Up riders carrying the colors.

Following the parade, like most other attendees, we walked both sides of Aspen Street to see what the vendors offered.  As a group, we did end up making a few purchases.  By the time we had finished our walk we found we had quite an appetite.  Luckily we were at the food truck area of the venue.

After looking around, two-thirds of the group opted for gyro sandwiches while I decided on a Navajo taco.  I had never had one.  Instead of a corn tortilla for the taco a fried bread took its place.  It reminded me of a sopapilla.  The toppings included two types of beans, ground beef, tomato, lettuce, sour cream, and pickled jalapenos.  It was good, but now that I have tried one, I am not sure I will go out of my way to have another.

People exploring Aspen Street after the parade.

If one is in the Fruita area during the next Fall Festival it is definitely worth stopping to experience.

The Fruita Fall Festival photo wall.


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