Flush with pride?

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — After nearly a year and half of trying, Independence has been named the home of Virginia’s official Grand Privy Race.

House joint resolution Number 76, agreed to by the House of Delegates on Jan. 18 and the Senate on Feb. 26, officially recognizes the Town of Independence for its annual outhouse race.

The resolution says the Town of Independence is known across the commonwealth for its Mountain Foliage Festival, held each October, which features the official Grand Privy Race, “an unusual competitive event thought to be the first and only one of its kind in Virginia.”

According to the resolution, the Independence Fine Arts Council organized the first Mountain Foliage Festival in 1982 and former Town Manager Darrell Ward and his staff came up with the idea to hold a privy race to culminate the town’s fall celebration with a fun and creative event.

Interest waned in the annual celebration for about eight years, when in 1994 the Historic 1908 Courthouse Foundation and the Grayson Business Association resurrected the festival and the race.

The race that takes place in the streets at the center of the town ends with the crowning of the winners of the event as the Grand Privy Champions.

The resolution goes on to say the townspeople are great supporters and enthusiastic volunteers at the festival, which includes a multitude of family-friendly activities, including a parade featuring the winner of the “Potty Princess Pageant,” art and craft exhibits by regional artisans, plenty of delicious food and diverse entertainment from bluegrass music to local theatre groups.

The festival is a successful and popular celebration and the town’s recognition as its host and the “Official Home of the Grand Privy Race” is a tremendous asset to the town and the citizens of Independence and Grayson County, creating community unity, supporting local artists and entertainers, promoting area tourism and business and attracting new visitors to the region.

Special Events Committee Chairwoman Carol Lundgren helped lead the way towards getting the recognition.

“We weren’t sure to begin with who to help us get it accomplished,” she said. “Having to gather all the past info and research of any other community in Virginia that may have privy races — the usual who, what, when and where.”

After getting all the information required together, Lundgren gave it to Del. Bill Carrico (R-Fries) and his office handled it from there.

“Some people think tourism is not the way for the Twin Counties to go, but it can’t hurt,” said Lundgren. “Privies have been a part of many people’s lives in the past, some not too distant in the past. So why burn them and forget them? Lets race them.”

Lundgren added that the New River, Mount Rogers, the Historic 1908 Courthouse and the music heritage in the area bring people from all over the world.

“So why not show these people how much fun we can have with a privy?” she said. “Some people think it’s a waste of time or disgusting. It’s good clean fun. It’s no different than having a hot dog eating, ramp eating or like the state of Hawaii’s Spam this and that.

“And you need a princess to reign over the racers, so we include the Potty Princess. Just a little more fun.”

Lundgren said being declared the official home of the Grand Privy Race gives Independence a bit more ability to bring in corporate sponsorships, press, tourists and — hopefully — more community involvement.

Once receiving the news, she ordered new signs that will be hung on Main Street this October for the event.