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.
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.
This year’s race saw the introduction of the golden thrones. Something that got rave reviews from the contestants. More on that later.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
If one is in the Fruita area during the next Fall Festival it is definitely worth stopping to experience.