Arts & Culture, Winter

Dudes in Dresses and Flying Porta Potties… Groover’ing it at the Sawtooth Winterfest

Waking up to several inches of new and long-awaited powder is pretty exciting. But despite the fresh snow in Sun Valley on Saturday, we headed north to enjoy the Annual Stanley-Sawtooth Winterfest. Anytime you get to take part in a community event that brings a small town together for a day of costume, creative racing and street dancing, you are a lucky visitor.

A little overcast, but nonetheless, the Sawtooth Mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop. Wait til' you see this on a bluebird day!


(above) Our neighboring town of Stanley, Idaho, sits 61 miles north of Sun Valley and is located near the headwaters of the Salmon River. Population: 62 lucky people.

The annual Stanley "Drag" Race—an all out sprint from the Kasino Club to the Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon. I'm pretty sure the lady on the far right ran the whole thing blind.


Seeing locals dressed in drag racing down Ace of Diamonds Street on snowshoes is a sight to behold.  And as if that weren't enough, the locals then challenged themselves to an equally ridiculous three-legged race.

Three-legged race. Even the guys in dresses and flip flops wore them all day. Even crazier is that Stanley is consistently the coldest town in the lower 48. Thank God for some sun today.


Classic tennis racket snowshoe trick.


Nothing like a good ol' fashioned street dance to warm ya up!


This year's Winterfest featured music from the Travis Hardy Band. Stanley may be a small town, but it has no shortage of great musical talent: the Braun Brothers, who are currently leading the Austin, TX bands Reckless Kelly and Mickey & the Motorcars, hail from the area. Look em' up.


This is a community at play—a respite from the quiet of a long winter in the mountains. An excuse to liven up a sleepy town for a few days, and to collectively break the cabin fever. My good friend Erica Cole said it best today: “To be able to get together in the middle of winter and wear dresses—that’s community bonding.”

The South Valley ShiXXer… a groover (river toilet) on skis. These ladies push it to the line.


Caldwell Crapper's brave racer.


Perhaps the day's most exciting event to watch was the race between home-made outhouses mounted on skis. Racers traveled the length of main street powered by brute strength, beer and a desire to get to the finish line before their mode of transport collapsed.

These teams have been training months for this moment, and shin guards are always useful.


Bridge Street Grill's porta john is full of class and patriotism… let's hope not anything else.


Captain Stanley style!  Sawtooth Valley Rural Fire District's "Fire Hole" taking the win and all the glory–pants dropped and screaming the whole way.


There was also a triathlon involving snowboards, river tubes, pyramids of boxes, beer chugging, and a barefoot-snow sprint to the finish.

Bellevue's own Tara Bell and her fiance Dylan chug as they try to beat the Stanley locals in the triathlon. You know the old saying: a couple that competes together stays together.


The carnage after sprinting in socks across the finish line.


My friends and I watching all the shenanigans.


Something about the overcast skies, with views of the Sawtooths breaking through the snowy mist in enticing glimpses, somehow brings the troop of people standing on main street closer together. Huddled around small bonfires, surrounded by faces both familiar and new, there is a sense here that everyone is your friend, and that all are welcome in Stanley, Idaho. Whether it’s during the still of winter or the gorging bustle of summer, this is a playground for all seasons, and for all peoples–even if by chance you are wearing a dress, flip flops, and pushing a groover on skis. ~Martha If you would like to view more photography, or were in the event and would like a print please visit:

A rainbow over a magical place called Stanley – "Where the men sometimes dress like women and the groovers are fast as… $%^&".

Photos: Mark Oliver


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