Outhouse Blowout - 10 years and still going

October 03, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

FORKLAND - As soon as they arrived at the Great Outhouse Blowout, Jerry Olson, Ed Nolan, Peter White and "Snake" Wiesheier all jumped out of their SUV and starting snapping pictures of themselves.

"Are we at Woodstock with mobile outhouses?" one of them wondered aloud.

All are Eastern Kentucky University grads who drove in from Chicago. "Snake" flew in from San Francisco.

The colorful foursome was a good example of the kind of diverse crowd that comes to witness the spectacle of the Great Outhouse Blowout, a contest for outhouse racing enthusiasts from all over that celebrated it 10th anniversary Saturday.

Jean Penn Lane, owner and operator of Penns Store, is very happy with how the event has progressed.

"It started with a need for a bathroom; we can't build onto the store because of its historical value, so we had an outhouse dedication. I had several country singers come here from Nashville to help us celebrate the dedication of the outhouse. Then - the Great Blowout just started from that."


While the Blowout is all about a good time, the racers themselves take the event - and their machines - quite seriously.

"We keep our outhouses light, seriously - one is Plexiglas, one is aluminum," said Phillip Anderson, a member of the two-time defending champion Pot Rockets.

The Pot Rockets, a team of high schoolers from Casey County's Kentucky Technical School, is coached by Darrell Barlow, an auto mechanics instructor who helps his students design and create their sleek, aerodynamic racers. The Pot Rockers were having another good showing Saturday.

"We've won all four races so far today," said driver Charley Watson, a slightly built 16-year-old who said she was chosen to ride in the rig "because I'm the lightest."

Team members dismissed their own skills as outhouse racers and gave Barlow all the credit for their success.

"I think he's the reason Kentucky Tech has won for the past two years," Anderson said.

Good-natured trash talk

The atmosphere was filled with good-natured trash talk about who would win the final race later in the day. Several "coaches" from other outhouse teams walked up the Pot Rockets to get in on the conversation, but Barlow waved them away.

"We can't have anyone figuring out our secrets," he said.

John Coffey, a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer out of Richmond, has been to the event every year since it began. Coffey used to participate in the race with the Little South team as a younger man, but now is one of the event's many volunteers.

"Well, us old guys," Coffey said as he patted his belly, "We're out of shape now, so we don't run in the races anymore. We just help Jean make sure all goes well. It's a really laid-back crowd out here - not too much hustle and bustle, as you can see."

Even though an off-and-on drizzle, the crowd was content taking in live music, perusing vintage cars and milling about the vendors' booths.

Carol Pachniak and her daughter, Kelly, rode her motorcycle to the Blowout with other members of Southern Cruisers biker club from Elizabethtown

"One of our members came last year and told us we should see it for ourselves." said Pachniak, who was dressed in black leather chaps and vest.

Blowout judge James Rogers, 79, sat in a green plastic chair at the finish line, the event's official "go to guy" if there is ever any question about who really won a race.

"I've only had to call it twice, though." said Rogers, who has been a judge for four years.

Rogers got sidetracked in a discussion on the importance of the Second Amendment, but was snapped back to the task at hand as the Pot Rockets' silver throne came flying down the track.

"Uh oh, here they come. Watch out now!"

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