Imagine, if you can, a bunch of men racing on foot down the road pulling and pushing the most outrageous outhouses you’ve ever seen. With two people to push, two to pull, and one to sit on the throne, they race along a 300-feet strip to the finish line. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners receive prizes, and awards also go to the more creatively designed outhouse and to the team who traveled the longest distance to get to the race. But before the race, there is an Outhouse Parade featuring decorated outhouses rather than your usual decorated floats.
These are just a few of the attractions at the Great Outhouse Blowout. But first, a little background on its history. Penn’s Store is a little country store, located in south-central Kentucky at the junction of Highway 243 and Highway 387, at the junction of the North Rolling Fork River and Little South Creek, just off Highway 243 across the creek. It is the oldest country store in America that has been run by the same family since 1850. Although the actual age of the store is unknown, it traces back as far as 1845 when it was ran by a man named William Spragens at age 21. It is known, though, that the store was in operation before it was ran by Spragens.
The first Penn to own the store was Gabriel Jackson “Jack” Penn, and in 1870 Martin Wilson “Dick” Penn took over the ownership and operation of the store. Since then, ownership and management has been in the family down through the generations.
Penn’s Store had never had a bathroom. So in 1992, when the store built it’s first outhouse, they sponsored a public event in dedication of their new outhouse. The store had gone so long without a bathroom facility, it was especially appreciated by the ladies, and plans were made for a celebration. Today, Penn’s Store still does not have running water, but it does have an outhouse.
The dedication was held in 1992, with several musical friends in attendance to add gaity to the day’s festivities. Billy Edd Wheeler wrote the song “Little Brown Shack Out Back,” and Chet Atkins was also in attendance which drew national attention to the event.
As the annual event became popular, they added outhouse racing. This is a sight to see, and one you don’t want to miss. Competitors come from places as far away as Canada to compete in the race.
In one race, they had a competition using a real outhouse, which was afterwards given to to the Amish in the area to be put to real use. They now use outhouses that are not real, but are sleek, lightin weight and fast. Competetitors work hard on creating new and unique designs and each year brings new designs never before seen in an outhouse.
Some of the competitors actually have corporate sponsers who pay their entry fee and travel expenses to attend this Outhouse Blowout. But most competitors are simply groups who pool their resources to build and race their own outhouses.
This year, the 2010 Outhouse Blowout will include The Great Outhouse 300 Race, the Ugly Truck Contest, the Cruise-in Car, truck and motorcycle show as well. An Ugly Legs Contest for Men, and an Outhouse Bachelor contest for Ladies will also be a plus. The Great Outhouse Blowout Concert Series and music will last all day. It’s an all day event with great food, and door prizes. The parade of Privies will be held at 11:30 AM, before the races begin, as well as other fun-filled events.
This year’s blowout is held as a fund-raiser to help with the restoration of Penn’s Store, which was damaged by the May 2nd 2010 flood. The water inside the store was 4 feet high, devastating the floor and foundation of the 165 year old building as well as destroying inventory.
The Great Outhouse Blowout will be held on September 11, 2010 and open to the public at 9:00 AM. Please bring chairs or blankets to sit on. For more information about the blowout, you can contact 859-332-7706 or 859-332-7715, as well as by email at PennsStore@aol.com or you can find it online at www.pennsstore.com.