In Moravia, N.Y., a small town on the south end of Owasco Lake in central New York, is Fillmore Glen State Park, named in honor of Millard Fillmore, the thirteenth president of the United States. Fillmore, elected vice president in 1849, became president in 1850 after the death of Zachary Taylor. Although Moravia sometimes claims him as a native son, he was born in the neighboring town of Locke. He became a lawyer and later moved his family to Buffalo, New York. He was elected to the New York State Legislature and Congress before being chosen to run as Zachary Taylor’s vice president.
We moved to Moravia in 1999. Each year for twenty years before we arrived, Moravia celebrated Fillmore Days with bathtub races. Why bathtub races? Well, Millard Fillmore was credited with installing the first bathtub in the White House, although the factuality of this is in question. We lived in Moravia for fourteen years, we heard about the bathtub races, we saw pictures of the bathtub races, and there were bathtubs used as decoration in front of a couple of businesses, but the bathtub races were no longer held. After a hiatus of twenty years, the races were held again, this year in Fillmore Glen State Park, and we returned there for the event.
It was a fun, family event set up like a street fair, with food, craft, and game booths, and people aplenty. With sun and clouds, and a few sprinkles, the day turned out fine. And we visited with friends we hadn’t seen for a while.
The Race Course – Although it looks flat, there was a slight incline.
In case you’re wondering, each tub entered in the race was mounted on wheels. Teams of four ran the tubs, two to ride and two to push. Some teams wore costumes, and some of the tubs were highly decorated. Each team ran two heats with their tub, and they switched places for the second heat. Each tub team was timed, and spectators voted for their favorite team.
This team had a lot of enthusiasm, but they lost a wheel on the first heat and couldn’t run the second.
This tub even had a dripping shower head. The family ran the race in honor of their grandmother, who used to love the bathtub races.
If you’re in the area, visit Fillmore Glen State Park. It has a camp ground, swimming hole, and hiking trails. The bathtub races aren’t a daily feature, however. Sorry!