Events & Community Involvement Outhouse Festival Celebrates 25 Years
“That’s right, folks – 25 years of Outhouse Tours! By popular demand, ain’t no virus gonna keep us from goin’! Gas masks might be appropriate … !” With that “Get Elk Falls” Facebook post on October 26, everyone knew that the 25th Annual Elk Falls Outhouse Festival was a “GO!”
Steve Fry, Friends of Elk Falls Association spokesman, says, “So many people had contacted us, asking us if we were going to have it (and hoping that we would) that we felt like we should go ahead and do it.” Traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving, this year’s festival did indeed take place on Friday, November 20, and Saturday, November 21, 2020 in Elk Falls, Kan.
“There were a lot of people in town, but not as many as in past years,” Fry reflects, adding, “But, we had a great turn-out and everyone seemed to be very glad that we did it. We were EXTREMELY busy here at the shop, and the craft show at the church was very busy, as well.” Fry is the co-owner, with his wife, Jane, of the Elk Falls Pottery.
Not surprisingly, a big part of the festival is touring outhouses. Visitors may pay just $1.00 each to receive a button, a ballot, and a map of the entries. And, they are the ones who decide the winners. Twenty-one outhouses were on the 2020 tour. “The ballots have been counted (and verified!) and the results have been certified!” quipped Fry in the posted announcement of the winners. SKT’s entry, “Santa’s Test Flight Gone Wrong,” received third place. Receiving second place was “Hawaiian Puau,” by Teresa Bishop and Bev Signer of Howard, Kan., and capturing first place was “Thank You Elk Falls,” by the Burke Family of Elk Falls.
Although the crowds were down (as expected), this year’s festival in beautiful downtown Elk Falls featured all the endearing offerings and events that veteran festival-goers have come to love and expect – live music by the bluegrass band “Reach for the Sky” on Saturday, the quilt show, craft show, vintage campers, ham & beans, apple dumplings, and more, not to mention the laughter (which is always free and frequent – along with the smiles). And as always, the Elk Falls Pottery was well–stocked, including special Elk Falls Sesquicentennial items especially designed to commemorate the village of Elk Falls’ 150 years in existence. That fact alone may explain why they are blessed with so many outhouses ….
Stephen Herman of Pittsburg, Kan., posted the following after the festival, “This sleepy little wide spot in the road, Elk Falls, KS, holds the greatest event in the State every year, and it is highly competitive. Debbie and I have been attending since about 2015 as Martin and Kathie Burke [first-place winners] are dear friends of ours. It’s heart warming to see this community come together for this annual event.”
Elk Falls Outhouse Tour 2020
Capturing first place was “Thank You Elk Falls,” by the Burke Family of Elk Falls. Receiving second place was “Hawaiian Puau,” by Teresa Bishop and Bev Signer of Howard, Kan. SKT’s entry, “Santa’s Test Flight Gone Wrong,” received third place.