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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Outhouse races fun winter tradition

Grab a friend, build an outhouse and be ready to race at the 18th annual Trenary Outhouse Classic this Saturday as a fun way to wrap up the cold Upper Peninsula winter.

Every year the Outhouse Classic Committee puts on a race of homemade outhouses in Trenary, Mich. Two people create and race each outhouse, with this year’s theme being “18 and Still Wipin’!”

The Trenary Tavern hosts the crowning of the Outhouse Classic King and Queen in the weeks leading up to the race each year. This year, Justin Smith and Lisa Johnson, both from Trenary, were awarded that honor.

Two racers prepare to push their “Moose Lodge” outhouse down the track. This year’s Trenary Outhouse Classic takes place on Saturday, Feb. 26, and registration is open until 1:30 p.m. the day of the races. // Photo courtesy of Ginger Erwin

Johnson has been going to the races since the very beginning, and she’s excited to be an honorary figure in the event for the first time.

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“(Jason and I) are going to walk down the track and do our duties and wave to people,” Johnson said. “A lot of funny things happen, there’s a lot of funny stuff to see and a lot of people having a good day.”

Johnson said the races almost become addicting; racers and audience members alike can’t get enough of the races.

“As for the people who’ve never been here, the first time you come, you’re going to want to come back,” Johnson said.  “It’s a small town and it’s a good time and everyone who comes every year loves it.”

Diane Peterson, Outhouse Classic Committee Treasurer, looks forward to the hilarity of the festivities every year.

“It’s a fun and goofy time. It’s really a carnival atmosphere,” Peterson said.

Each team can only have two contestants, but team members can make more than one entry in the contest, Peterson said. There are specific guidelines for how the outhouses need to be built, but those guidelines still allow for a lot of creativity.

“They have to build an outhouse made out of wood, cardboard, something light – the lighter the better,” Peterson said. “It needs to be mounted on skis that cannot exceed 16 inches out, and each outhouse needs to have a toilet seat and a toilet paper roll inside.”

As long as all of those qualifications have been met, teams can assemble their outhouses however they want.

As an incentive to participate, at the time of registration each team is given two T-shirts, two rolls of toilet paper autographed by the King and Queen and Mardi Gras beads.

Peterson said she encourages contestants to dress up to match their outhouse theme, as did the women from the Dog Patch restaurant in Munising, who made Peterson’s favorite outhouse ever to be a part of the competition. They called it “The VatiCan.”

“Basically, it was supposed to be the Vatican, like, the Pope,” Peterson said.  “It was just really fun and cute, and it was a lot of work. They had some ‘nasty nuns’ and it was fun to see.”

Harold Parkkila, a lifetime Marquette resident, has attended the Trenary Outhouse Classic for the last several years. He said he loves to see how original everyone’s outhouses can be.

“People get really creative; they come up with some really interesting ideas,” Parkkila said. “They have skis underneath, and you could push them … It’s special because people come from all over the world to do this; it’s unbelievable.”

There are seven age groups this year, each age group having their own race. Children five and under are “Squirts,” children six to 10 are “Little Trots,” children 11 to 15 are “Kids,” 16 to 20-year-olds are “Big Kids,” 21 to 35-year-olds are “Stinkers,”  “Da Dab Its” are adults age 36 to 49, and “Old Farts” are those 50 and up.

The race track has previously always been 500 feet long, but this year it was shortened to 320 feet. The Outhouse Classic Committee decided 500 feet was a little too far, taking some of the fun out of the race, Peterson said. She thinks it will be a lot easier and a lot more fun with a shorter track.

Dr. McGillicuddy’s Intense Schnapps and Charmin Toilet Paper are sponsors of the event this year. Dr. McGillicuddy’s has been a sponsor for this event for the last nine years. Radio Results Network does all of the Outhouse Classic’s advertising.

Registration is open until 1:30 p.m. the day of the races. There is a $35 fee for adults and a $15 fee for children. The races are held outside the Trenary Tavern on Saturday, February 26 at 2 p.m.

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