It’s off to the Outhouse Races as 10th Annual April Fool’s Festival arrives in Tryon

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2015

COVER AprilFool'sFest
There will be outhouses flying, folks dressed up like dumpsters, coconut bowling — oh, and some food and music too.

You may have noticed the thousands of men’s ties strung on lines from pole to pole in downtown Tryon? Well, that’s the signal that winter is officially over!

It’s time to “tie one on” this Saturday, April 4 for the 10th annual April Fool’s Festival in downtown Tryon.

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The festivities begin with the 10th Annual Parade of Fools down Trade Street at noon. In years past, the parade has seen on display the creative goofiness of an assortment of local charitable organizations and clubs, downtown institutions and individuals, as well as the outhouses which will soon appear in the annual outhouse races.

Festival chairman Bill Crowell says be just as silly as you can, “without embarrassing your wife.”

The parade participants gather up at the Methodist Church on Newmarket Road at 11 a.m. and strut off starting at noon, ending at the Tryon Town Hall a short while later.

Then it’s off to the races, the family activities, the musical entertainment and all the rest of the festival foolishness.

“Outhouse Races!?” you may scoff, but this is a serious sport. You have to use the head – and the heart.

Local outhouse racers have become quite skilled, with a decade of honing their craft now under their belt. In the off-season, each team spends months, weeks, days even, crafting a people-powered rolling privy that must carry at least one rider, have four walls, four wheels, and a roof.

Finally, the day of the competition arrives. The crowds, the sun, the toilet paper flying.

Spoiler alert: First timers will want to be careful to observe the parade at noon, watching the racers in a sort of warm-up, smack-talk, shake-down, each team strutting its bathroom along main street, sizing up this year’s competition.

Then, parade over, it’s down to business as the racers roll to the starting line at Palmer Street. After the starting bell, they chug up the hill a quarter mile or so at full throttle, outhouse in tow, to the clock tower, first across the finish line taking the prize.

There is a “grown-ups” heat and a children’s (16 and under) heat. Bring your own Sears catalogue, and an appetite.

Tryon restaurants will be offering delicious lunch menus for outdoor eating and Tryon Downtown Development Association, sponsor of the festival, will be selling refreshments.

A group of well-known local performers, coming together in the band “Dogwhistle,” will take the stage next, playing Americana and Country-Western. The band features Scott Allen (Seconds Flat) on guitar, Stan Halbkat (Trophy Huzbands) playing bass, Lee Holroyd (Anti-Bodies and Trophy Huzbands) on drums and special guest Mike Bagwell (Bad Popes and many others) on steel guitar.  The band will play its first set around 2 p.m., after the parade and outhouse races are completed. They’ll take a break for the Trashion Show, around 3 p.m. and then return to entertain the spring revelers from 4 p.m. until about 6 p.m.

The Trashion Show will begin around 2:45 at The Depot. Outfits should consist of reclaimed, recycled and found materials. Judging will be based upon originality, percentage and most creative use of non-traditional materials.

The categories of the contest include: pets, and humans ages 1-12, 13-20, and 21 and older.

Dig through those garbage cans and start designing your get-up. You could win great prizes.

The only entry fee is the donation of an item for either Foothills Humane Society or Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry. Pre-registration, via email, will be appreciated to This event is sponsored by Diamond B Energies, Burrell’s Fuels, Media Masters Publicity and Mary & Morris.

The name of the winner of the April Fool’s Festival annual Scavenger Hunt also will be drawn at this time.

There will be a family area and children’s games and much more.

All the fun started ten years ago when Tryon’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade kept getting knocked out by ice storms and rain. The late Kathleen Carson, a Tryon Downtown Development Association board member, decided a little bit of foolishness around April 1 might make more sense.

“It was amazingly successful the first year and seems to have continued to bloom and grow each year,” says one of the original festival organizers, Jody Vermont. “After this long winter of cold and gray, it will be a perfect time to stretch our senses of humor and loose our inhibitions!”

For more information, call Bill Crowell at 828-859-9278 or visit the festival Facebook page at

–  Submitted by Jeff Byrd