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The Gearboat Chronicles

Fergifest Lawnchair Racing: On the count of one

High Speed Sitting Down

The bare ground to snow ratio was perfect Saturday for celebrating last runs and gravity-fueled lawnchair racing at Fergifest. The mood was festive and the betting was lively before the start of the annual running of the lawnchairs. Racing aficionados call this Wallowa County competition the Kentucky Derby of snowsports minus the horses, small men dressed like jesters, awful hats, juleps or Kentucky.


After a disappointing finish the last every time I entered this competition, I held a last-minute consultation with my corporate sponsors and coach and these fictional people all agreed it made sense this year to bring in substitute lawnchair pilot Kendrick Moholt. Kendrick was uniquely qualified to race, since¬† his daughter said it was OK if he borrowed her pink and white helmet and I forgot to bring the required safety gear. Another factor for getting an alternate driver is that I seem to be not getting younger and barreling down a mountain on a contraption held together with hope and deck screws probably isn’t the safest activity. Makes far more sense to talk a family man into doing it.

The starting line and racecourse, seen below, looks gentle and fun when you’re standing at the bottom. It looks the same from the top, only terrifying and a terrible, terrible idea. Every year I’ve raced in this event I’ve waxed the skis on my lawnchair to go as fast as possible, then wished at the top I’d attached sandpaper, garden rakes and insurance policies to the bottom instead to slow things down.


Timm Turrentine sealed his second victory in a row by once again using his innovative technique of cheating. Timm either confuses “one” and “three” or thinks counting and counting-down are the same thing. He explains his unique approach to understanding how numbers work by pointing out that he was the first one to cross the finish line. So I guess we’ll just let it go and let him enjoy that third-place finish.


The spot where Timm’s racer came to rest looked so good that second-place finisher Jerry Hustafa parked his sled right on top, then Kendrick came along and added to the sculpture of bent skis. Good job, gravity.


In this next photo, champion Timm Turrentine laughs while Fergi presidente Charlie Kissinger and Kenrick try to explain how numbers don’t all mean the same thing. Turrentine replied, “Well, eighth of all, that’s just not true.”


The Fergifest Fashion Show did not disappoint, with wigs and Hawaiian shirts out in force. Here we see fashion experts and father/daughter ski team Paul and Linden Arentsen sporting their new line of alpine wear for 2015, with Paul modeling an absolutely fabulous tropical shirt/Elvis sunglasses combo and Linden rocking a ski bunny suit with built-in mittens and cottontail.


Knee pads, fake dreadlocks, poncho and kerchief is not an ensemble many people could pull off. Willy Locke did not get that memo and pulls it off.


Muchas thank yous to the army of Fergi volunteers for the ton of work that makes loads of fun.