For people unfamiliar with the Elk Falls Outhouse Tour & Contest, it may be a bit of a head-scratcher, but it has turned into a huge win for the community – annually bringing in 15 times the number of residents of the small southeast Kansas town.
It’s been more than 20 years since the Friends of Elk Falls Association brainstormed to come up with an event to add to their annual Fall Open House celebration. Someone (jokingly) said, “Well, we have a lot of outhouses in town.” Everyone got a good laugh and then thought, well, why not? No one has ever done THAT before! Thus, the Outhouse Tour & Contest was born. They hesitantly tried it, and it was a “thundering” success! People absolutely loved it!
In 2017, the Elk Falls Outhouse Tour drew more than 1,500 people to the quaint town of less than 100 residents on the Elk River. Each year, individuals and local businesses come up with a theme and decorate an outhouse for the contest where the visitors are the judges. Cash prizes are awarded to the top three, as well as the coveted “Outhouse Throne Award,” a custom-made stoneware trophy chamber pot.
Visitors who choose to take the self-guided tour pick up a ballot and a map at the Outhouse Headquarters downtown and vote for their favorite privy! Cost is $1 for a commemorative Outhouse Button. SKT decorates an outhouse each year, and a favorite was our 2014 entry, the “Downwind Casino” where “What happens in the Elk Falls Outhouse Stays in the Outhouse.” It won first place and was even featured in the Kansas! Magazine article about the tour.
This year’s 42nd annual Elk Falls Open House and 23rd Annual Elk Falls Outhouse Tour & Contest is Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Besides the infamous tour, there is a Harvest Craft Fair, Quilt Show, Vintage Camper Gathering, Prairie Gem School House Display, Hippy Chalet, Bluegrass Music featuring the band “Reach For The Sky” proudly sponsored by SKT, Chili Cookoff, and all kinds of food, including Homemade Apple Dumplings. There will also be a large selection of stoneware and potter’s wheel demonstrations, and much more, at Elk Falls Pottery at the Rock Garden. Like they say in Elk Falls, “You Gotta Go!” For more information and all the details, go to elkfallsouthousetour.com.