October 21, 2021

‘Good, clean fun’ in Moravia

Bathtub racers ride again at Fillmore Days event this weekend

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

The team called Monster Beach Party begins its second and final bathtub race of the day Saturday afternoon. The Schnurr family’s team won first place, unopposed, in the “custom tub” category, completing the race with an average time of 1 minutes and 26 seconds.

MORAVIA — None of this cast-iron tub stuff for Jackie Schnurr and her siblings. No fiberglass, either. Not even a galvanized steel wash tub. For their Fillmore Days Bathtub Race entry, they went totally monster.

Schnurr, her two brothers and sister-in-law built their bathtub from a large plastic feed trough from Tractor Supply, set on a piece of plywood attached to a bicycle frame. It won the custom tub category on Saturday.

“We knew we didn’t want to do a bathtub tub, and we found that big thing and my son was like ‘That looks like a cauldron.’ And we thought that would be so cool, so we started talking that it would be cool if we were monsters,” Schnurr said.

When her sister-in-law pointed out that running in costume might be warmer than they’d like, the idea of a monster beach party was born. One was a witch with a bikini top; another a werewolf in 1920s swim gear.

“It was so much fun, and of course we loved being the unique ones,” Schnurr said.

“I love the fact that people come up with these awesome themed designs and just have fun with it,” said organizer Joshua Marnell. “This is not meant to be a serious race, this is about people coming together and having a good time.”

Thousands of people filled Fillmore Glen State Park for a weekend of fun, featuring live music, vendors, pedal races and the bathtub race.

The race course followed the entry road to the park, just past the park office building. Hay bales lined both sides, providing a cushion — and sometimes an obstacle — for the racers.

“It was a great day, I think the weekend went quite well for us,” said Marnell, who revived the races in 2019. “We are thankful to have such a generous and caring community to help us with this event.”

The village provided bleachers for spectators, the town helped with the last-minute approvals for the vendors, and local 4-H groups had volunteers walking throughout the park selling $1 water bottles.

“My favorite part is seeing the smiles on all the participants and spectators — it really is some good clean fun,” Marnell said.

Then again, getting cleaned up is what bathtubs are for. Legend has it, the bathtub races began as an ironic gesture to the bogus story that Summerhill native President Millard Fillmore was the first president to put a bathtub in the White House.

The Moravia bathtub races took place every summer for many years until a tub hit an obstacle — one of the spectators. That accident ended the tradition in 1999 — until Marnell came along.

“This is something that’s been going on in Moravia for years, and bringing it back really is an important part of the community and it gets people excited for the next year,” said Schnurr, of Moravia.

The 2019 winners returned this year to keep their titles. Two-time winners Team Bubbles raced its cast iron tub with an average time of 1 minute and 5 seconds.

“Last year, we didn’t know we were gonna race until that day — about 30 minutes before we raced,” said Carl Hartwell of Locke. “This year, we knew were we gonna have to race. So I trained for about five minutes on Thursday to prepare.”

The spectators cheered on the racers and voted for their favorite tubs.

“I just love the fact that the community comes together for this,” said Lela Burroughs of Scipio. “Moravia is a great town, and it’s in such a great location — kind of between the three counties. I know it seems like a little rinky-dink kind of town, but when things happen we all pull together and Fillmore Glen is such a beautiful place to go and spend the day with your family.”