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  • Writer's pictureJordan Reynolds

Running of the Tubs


Each year, the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas attracts visitors from all over the world to experience the one-of-a-kind Stueart Pennington's World Championship Running of the Tubs Stueart Pennington’s World Championship Running of the Tubs festival.


This vibrant celebration pays tribute to the town’s cultural heritage and captures the imagination of all who attend. Famous for its bathtub races, where teams in elaborate costumes push customized tubs down Historic Bathhouse Row, each competing for the top honor: the coveted Stueart Pennington Cup, this unique event is suitable for all ages and is free to attend. It’s always the most entertaining, fresh, and wholesome fun you can have in town!


The festival's name is inspired by the traditional bathtub races that have been a fixture of the Hot Springs scene since the early 1900s. Back then, many locals couldn't afford to visit the town's bathhouses, so they fashioned their own tubs and filled them with the town's steamy hot water. As a friendly competition, friends and neighbors began racing their makeshift tubs along the streets.


As the years passed, the races gained popularity and evolved into a massive event, attracting participants from far and wide. Today, the Running of the Tubs festival has become an epic event with live music, tasty food vendors, and, of course, the famous bathtub races that attract teams from all over the nation.

The races themselves are an unforgettable spectacle! Participants strap into their decorated bathtubs and zoom down Historic Bath House Row, with their supportive fans in tow, and race them along a short track to compete for the coveted trophy and bragging rights. Four team members (the bath attendants) must push their bathtubs through the core of the city while the team captain sits in the bathtub and steers. Throughout the course, teams will face various obstacles along the way, while dressed in elaborate costumes in hopes to claim the coveted title of The World Champion Tub Runners.


At this particularly wet festival - everybody gets to be a part of the fun! The crowd comes prepared with water guns, water balloons, buckets, and anything else that can hold water, to soak competitors with water throughout the entire race, hoping to slow down, distract, or just be a bother to the racers.


Get ready for a thrilling and unique race unlike any other! To compete in this challenge, each contestant must fill up their bathtub with water to the brim at the starting line and ensure that there are at least 10 gallons of water left by the finish line. Adding to the challenge, each bath attendant must hold onto one of four items - a bar of soap, a bathmat, a loofah mitt, or a bath towel - throughout the entire race. Be prepared for unexpected twists as the judges, who will be dressed in chic bathrobes and clutching clipboards, will be free to create new rules and regulations on the fly. This race is sure to keep everyone on their toes!


But the Running of the Tubs festival is not just about the races; visitors can also take this opportunity to explore the town's historic thermal bathhouses which offer a variety of spa treatments, including massages, facials, and soothing soaks in the town's crystal-clear mineral water. It’s also an excellent opportunity to indulge in local delicacies and take a leisurely stroll down Central Avenue to catch the festive spirit.


The Stueart Pennington’s World Championship Running of the Tubs is a one-of-a-kind event that perfectly encapsulates the exuberant spirit of Hot Springs. Whether you're a long-time resident or a first-time visitor, there's something for everyone to enjoy, with an array of exciting activities, entertainment options, and chances to delve into the town's rich culture and history. Don't miss out on the chance to take part in the thrilling tub races and immerse yourself in the town's unique charm and atmosphere and be sure to tag Arkie Travels while you’re there. Happy adventuring!


Lindsay Jordan is the Head of Operations and Sarah's trusted right-hand at Arkie Travels. With an unwavering passion for all things Arkansas, her dedication to promoting the state shines through in her role. For the past six years, she served as the Executive Director for the Gann Museum of Saline County, where her deep appreciation for history and love for her home state was evident in the exceptional exhibits, compelling newsletters, and captivating tours she curated.


Away from the office, Lindsay finds immense joy in experiencing the wonders of the Natural State with her family. From camping under the stars to hiking along breathtaking trails, and even exploring picturesque waterways on kayaks, she embraces these outdoor adventures wholeheartedly and is happy to share all the beauty of Arkansas with everyone around her.


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