The once-popular outhouse races are making a comeback at this weekend’s Golden City Days, where one competitor looks to wipe the competition out.
Chainsaw carver Mike Williams has built two of the three contraptions scheduled to race Saturday afternoon. He and his team of retired firefighters we’ll be rolling up against his nephew and his younger crew but also the current Rossland firefighters.
It takes a team of five to race, one sitting on the toilet and four pushing and pulling the cart to the finish line.
Racing against the clock, each team does the course twice and the winner is selected based on the best combined time of the two runs.
Teams roll the rickshaw down the course 100 feet where they stop and do a fire drill, three laps around the outhouse ending with swapped positions, before continuing another 100 feet. At that point, participants ditch their rides with a roll of toilet paper in hand and hustle the rest of the way to set the roll on a plunger 30 feet further at the finish line.
“Getting the four people to run in synch is a challenge,” smiled Williams, admitting that it’s not such a “cushy” ride for the teammate inside, either.
He likens the event to Winter Carnival’s bobsled races and hopes the comeback this year will attract more outhouses next Golden City Days.
“We want to eventually have 20 to 30 different outhouses running and get a rivalry going between different businesses, bars or different groups,” he said. “We’re hoping people will eventually decorate their outhouses and do it with a bit of a theme like the bobsled’s pink canoe and the firefighters red sled with flashing lights, dressing up in costume, too.”
The carts must be a minimum of nine square feet at the base, must tout a toilet seat and handles for the rider to hold onto, as well as some kind of wiping material.
“Whether it’s toilet paper, an old Sears’ catalogue or maybe the competitor’s newspaper,” he laughed.
The rest is up to the builder.
Keeping it simple this year, Williams managed to scrounge up materials needed from his Patterson property.
“I’m a bit of a farmer here so I’ve got a good collection of junk,” he said. “I had enough materials to throw these two together.”
The one he’s racing is built on a metal frame. He welded two frontends of bicycles to it and built the wood frame around it to ensure the structure is sound.
He opted to give the other one to his nephew because it has smaller wheels and will be more of a challenge to race.
“I’m giving him the one that’s going to be harder to push because us older guys got to beat the kids somehow,” he said.
Williams is thrilled to see some old favourites came back this year, including the jail cell that Sunny Samuelson used to sheriff back in the day.
He also built the cell, using a pallet as the base and slab wood a local sawmill.
“(Mayor) Greg Granstrom will be the sheriff and will be arresting people say who don’t have a Golden City Days’ button on,” he said. “There will also be wanted posters for key individuals up in town.”
Born and raised in Rossland, Williams is proud of the history in the former mining town and is happy to bring an old favourite back to such a fun event.
“Growing up in Rossland, Golden City Days was the best thing,” he said. “You know you’re back to school at the beginning of September but a week later, you got Golden City Days so it was almost like having another holiday.”
Participants are to meet at the south wall of the Rossland Arena to register from 2-2:45 p.m. to ensure enough time to get going at 3 p.m.
There is still a small window for people to get organized, so long as there creation passes inspection during registration.
Williams said those looking for a turn are more than welcome to assemble a team and use one of his carts.
For more information on the races, contact Williams at 362-5244.