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Dustin Whitcomb makes sure to wear proper headgear. Photo: Sarah Harris
Dustin Whitcomb makes sure to wear proper headgear. Photo: Sarah Harris

To the outhouse race!

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Most towns have 4th of July parades. But they don't all have outhouse races. Each year in Bristol, Vermont, runners pushing outhouses on wheels barrel down the main street.

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Reported by

Sarah Harris
Reporter and Producer

 

It’s a muggy July 4th morning. Right by the Bristol town green, Matt Lathrop is stretching his legs. 

"We run from here to the light as fast as you can get there. It’s just a dead sprint," he explains. 

All the outhouses are basically big crates on wheels. Some are highly decorated – and others look a little more – traditional. Matt’s racing for the Bristol Fire Department, so his outhouse is covered in red paper, with a plastic siren on top.

Commodes-on-wheels at the starting line. Photo: Sarah Harris
Commodes-on-wheels at the starting line. Photo: Sarah Harris
"It’s functional a little bit," he says with a grin. "We got a seat. There are windows and doors."

Dustin Whitcomb is riding in the Champlain Valley Plumbing and Heating outhouse.

"The sides are made out of groundcover with a few pictures of Micky and Minnie and Pluto," he explains. 

I ask Dustin to describe the bike helmet he's wearing.  

"It has a plunger on the top of it."

Chris Barry (Pete Pan) and Kevin  Barry (Tinkerbell) get ready to sprint. Photo: Sarah Harris
Chris Barry (Pete Pan) and Kevin Barry (Tinkerbell) get ready to sprint. Photo: Sarah Harris
The outhouses and their runners get ready at the starting line.

The crowd counts down and the outhouses are off. 

They zoom down the main street, and cross a finish line made out of toilet paper.

There are four heats, and the finalists race against each other to win the world championships – and a wooden trophy shaped like an outhouse.

Cousins Chris and Kevin Barry have won the outhouse race for the past four years. Today, they’re gunning for another title  — and are dressed for the occasion. Chris is in a bright green Peter Pan costume. Kevin is dressed as Tinkerbell, in a purple dress and fairy wings. 

The grand prize. Photo: Sarah Harris
The grand prize. Photo: Sarah Harris
Kevin and Chris’s costumes don’t slow them down. They win their heat – and then it’s time for the world championships.

The outhouses take off. Kevin and Chris get off to a slow start. But then, they pull ahead and win for the fifth year in a row. 

At an awards ceremony on the green, Kevin and Chris collect their trophy.

"I think they have a whole outhouse trophy case at home," the anouncer jokes. 

The crowd slowly dissipates, and one thing is clear – in Bristol,  it’s not the 4th of July without the outhouse race.

 

 

 

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