A big part of building up your brand is carving out a niche—something that is unique and immediately recognizable; something that defines your product.
A great example of “branding” can be found in the Kaneland community’s four local summer festivals, as they each possess a niche that compels members of the community and outside public to return to the festivities year after year. We associate Sugar Grove Corn Boil with fireworks, main stage entertainment and, well, corn. When we think of Elburn Days, truck pulls, mud volleyball and a maze of food vendors come to mind. Kaneville Fest triggers thoughts of cookouts, horse-drawn carriage rides and ice cream eating contests.
As for Maple Park Fun Fest, it features a little bit of everything: fireworks, craft and food vendors, a spectacular parade and a three-day-long men’s softball tournament. Those are great activities, but the heart and soul of Fun Fest may lie in a simple event that is a creativy tour-de-force and manages to draw a heavy crowd despite lasting only a half hour.
We’re talking about Fun Fest’s annual Toilet Bowl Races.
Yes, the Toilet Bowl Races concept is fairly straightforward: dress up a toilet with as much or as little decorations as you like, affix it to something with wheels, and then pilot it down Main Street in Maple Park with two teammates. Yet, therein lies the true magic of the event: it’s not just about how fast you can race a toilet bowl; it’s about how good (or ridiculous) you look while doing it (the smart teams emphasize the latter).
On Saturday afternoon, four teams took to Main Street, custom toilet bowl racers in tow, with hundreds of residents lined up on the sidewalks, ready to witness the action. One team, the Barbed Wire Betties, was decked out in all pink, while another team was dressed up as the cast of “Duck Dynasty.” A third team, Winning the Pooh, had its toilet bowl done up with Winnie the Pooh and friends, while the rear of the racer was covered up to look like Ashdown Forest.
The fourth team kept it simple: a toilet bowl, crudely emblazoned with “Rigged Up,” mounted to a skateboard.
Well, simplicity was indeed genius on that Saturday afternoon, as the “Rigged Up” racer proved too much for the other three toilet bowl contraptions, edging out Winning the Pooh in the final race to take home the title of Toilet Bowl Races 2013 champion.
The “Duck Dynasty” crew took home the award for most original racer, and rightfully so.
Toilet bowls as a niche? You bet. You’d be hard pressed to find an event that mixes such high levels of competition and creativity, and at different age levels. And it’s a niche that helps put the “fun” in Fun Fest.