TRENARY - Organizers getting ready for the 20th anniversary running of the Trenary Outhouse Classic next month have bumped up the prize purse, hoping to increase racer participation in this year's event.
From the first running in February 1994, when a dozen entrants raced down the sidewalk in downtown Trenary in some crudely fashioned outhouses, the race has come a long way.
"Last year, we had 20 some racers and it's been as high as 62," said Diane Peterson, treasurer of the outhouse race committee.
Marie Spaude, left, and Jennifer Marciniak, both of Wallace, push their bottle-shaped outhouse down the snow-covered track at last year’s classic . This year’s event, set for Feb. 23, will have increased prize money as organizers are hoping to draw more racers. (Journal file photo by John Pepin)
The races, which this year are Feb. 23, are held at 2 p.m. in the middle of Trenary Avenue, where a track is built of packed snow.
Within the next few weeks, the first entrees will begin coming in, with several racers typically waiting to register until the day of the race. Those registering need to do so by 1:30 p.m. race day.
"We've had a lot of inquiries already," Peterson said.
But with the long 20-year duration of the event, and competition this year from a small Wisconsin town holding a similar race on the same day, organizers are hoping to keep enthusiasm and participation for the Alger County outhouse race high.
"You're always going to have spectators, we have thousands of people come to watch, but you need people to race," Peterson said.
Last year's cash prizes, for those race winners in the 21 years old and older category, were $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third. Those amounts have been doubled for this year's race by organizers hoping to entice more entries.
This year's theme for the race is "Everybody's Goin' to the Roarin' 20th Ever Trenary Outhouse Classic."
The object of the competition is to be the fastest two-person team to push an outhouse on skis 500 feet down the street. The outhouses are pushed one at a time along the snow-slicked roadway. Outhouses are built from wood, cardboard or other materials and must include a toilet seat and a roll of toilet paper. Designs and decorations are quite creative and usually center on toilet or bathroom-related themes.
Race entry buttons are $1, available from Trenary businesses, before the race and for $2 on race day. Numbers on the back of the pins are used for five raffle drawings for $50 each.
Those who enter the race receive two T-shirts, autographed rolls of toilet paper and stringed beads.
In addition to the races, there are games, food and vendors. Outhouse Classic T-shirts, sweatshirts and other merchandise are on sale. Proceeds from the Outhouse Classic are donated to Trenary community projects and programs.
The event attracts roughly 4,000 people to Trenary each February, swelling the town many times beyond its typical population of about 400.
"It's a big boost for the community in the winter and it's amazing that it's still going on," Peterson said. "It'd be nice to keep it going, but for how long, who knows?"
For more information on registration and other event information, visit the website at trenaryouthouseclassic.com/Registration.php or write to Outhouse Classic Committee, P.O. Box 271, Trenary, MI 49891.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.