Soaking up fun at Camas Days

Bathtub race winners drench the competition at annual festival

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First Place: Bath Tub Bandits

Second Place: Dairy Queen

Third Place: IQ Credit Union

First Place: Bath Tub Bandits

Second Place: Dairy Queen

Third Place: IQ Credit Union

CAMAS — Contestants cringed at the touch of frigid water Saturday as the crowd cheered their racing bathtubs down a slippery path toward victory.

Camas Days kicked off Friday and lasted through Saturday. The two-day celebration featured vendors, a grand parade and the ever-popular bathtub races.

“The competition is fierce and the trophies are large,” said Doug Quinn with a smile. He has volunteered at Camas Days for 15 years and was announcing the races this year.

For competitors, more than just a trophy was at stake, he said. In Camas, winners get bragging rights for the year.

Finishing with the first place trophy, the Bathtub Bandits glided in to their fourth consecutive victory.

“We had a run for our money,” said Tanya Groth, one of the three victorious competitors.

Eight teams of three, ages 16 and older, competed to get the bathtub from start to finish as fast as possible.

Water sloshed as tubs swerved along a series of cones. Two competitors steered the wheeled tubs, while one contestant sat inside in 47-degree water. Two teams competed side-by-side, and whoever made it through the fastest won.

For the crowd, the races were a slippery surprise as observers sat on the edge of their seats. Between races, kids basked in the rainfall as the Camas-Washougal Fire Department sprayed on a fresh layer of water for the next set of competitors.

“It’s a wonderful community,” Patric Ray said. “I am still trying to figure out why I left.”

After moving away from Camas 17 years ago, Ray continues to volunteer at Camas Days, he said. He schedules his vacation around the celebration and comes in from Sacramento, Calif., each year, he said.

“I’m a crazy volunteer,” he said. “Absolutely looney toons.”

From the food court to the wine garden, grand parade to bathtub races, Ray has done it all. On Saturday, he called and started the bathtub races.

For Aaron Lutz, Camas Days says a lot about the community. For 25 years, he has participated in the races which he says started in the early 1970s.

The best part for him, is to watch the kids enjoy the water between races and the community spirit, he said.

“Once you’re a part of Camas,” he said. “You’re always a part of Camas.”

Lutz is the owner of the Lutz Hardware, started by his grandfather in 1949, he said.

In 2003, he asked to take the bathtubs. This year, he painted on a fresh coat of blue and orange to the modified roadsters. Most of the same people compete year after year, he said. “How else do you get to watch three people push bathtubs down the road?” he said with a chuckle.

His father, Barry Lutz chimed in on the iconic races as he was lending a hand at the store Saturday. The race has nothing to do with skill, he said, it has to do with luck.

“It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,” he said with a laugh.