Most of the time, Trenary is a quiet community in Alger County, with only about 400 people.
But over the weekend, it grew to many times that size for its annual outhouse races.
The races raise thousands of dollars for local parks.
This year, the event had an international flair.
Mike Hoey was there on Saturday to check it out.
The outhouses in 17th annual Trenary Outhouse Classic feature pop culture fixtures — ’80s TV series such as The A-Team, and retired Red Wings legends like Steve Yzerman.
But the Classic had some new wrinkles this year.
The one that attracted the most attention?
A team of two Japanese reality TV stars.
Keiichi Hara and Yuzuru Abe have a show on Tokyo Broadcasting System, one of the major over-the-air national TV networks in Japan.
They’re traveling the U.S. as part of their show, entering unique contests and competitions wherever they can find them.
Kei Shozuzawa, the interpreter traveling with them, said they wanted to try an outhouse race because they’ve never heard of anything like this back home in Japan.
They had a little trouble staying on course down Main Street in Trenary, but they weren’t alone.
One of the race sponsors, Charmin bathroom tissue, actually entered a team into the event.
But it’s not all about competition.
The judges — bribing of whom is encouraged — also give prizes for the funniest outhouse and the best presentation.
For the 3rd year in a row, a group of Northern Michigan University students caught their attention.
This time, they did it with what they called the Mean Green Methane Machine.
Vince Wolgamott, Mike Lawson and Joe Supa were the ones behind the Northern Michigan Constructors’ outhouse.
Wolgamott and Supa say it took them 70-plus hours of work to build it, and for the 3rd straight year, Lawson and Supa were the ones who actually took it onto the track.
They were a bit pooped after pushing through the 500-foot-long course in what proved to be a winning time of 35 seconds.
All of the outhouses have to be mounted on skis, and they have to be fully functional, which means having a toilet seat and — you guessed it — at least one roll of toilet paper.
But it’s not about competition so much as having fun and fundraising.
Dianne Peterson, the main organizer of the Outhouse Classic, says the volunteers at the gate sold out all 3,000 entry buttons they started the day with, plus others that they were supplied with during the day, so she thinks they did very well.
With success like that, it’s no surprise the teams are looking forward to wiping out their competition next year.