Rock Creek Lodge, near Clinton, looks deserted this week, as if the hordes of last August’s Testy Fest revelers were raptured at the end of the 35th festival, leaving the grounds untouched since. Somebody must have cleaned up, but the Jim Beam-sponsored “Welcome to Testy Fest 2017” sign is still strung on a wire fence. Duct-taped to the doors to the bar is a simple “Closed for Winter” message on printer paper.
But the festival is gone for good. Lodge owner and festival organizer Matt Powers told the Missoulian on Monday that last year’s ball-worshipping romp was the last. “At the end of the day I have to be able to hold my head up and be proud of how I make my living,” he told the paper.
It was a remarkable statement from the owner of one of the smuttiest events ever conjured, billed last year as the “party you will never forget or never remember” and which featured wet T-shirt, wet undies, big balls, ball eating, Undie 500, Itty Bitty Titty, and Mr. Fun Buns contests.
Powers didn’t appear to be referencing testicle consumption when talking about his sense of shame. All that glorious debauchery has also produced a body count. Remember the woman who stabbed two people with a butterfly knife after flashing her breasts. And the drunken man who took a lodge-owned truck for a joyride the wrong way on I-90, killing himself and an 8-year-old boy.
The festival began offering shuttles, but those ended up becoming weapons, too. Last year a celebrant who was ejected from the festival climbed into a shuttle and allegedly yanked the steering wheel. Two people died, and now Powers faces a civil suit over the festival’s culpability in the death of one of those shuttle riders.
As of this writing, the lodge had yet to respond to the months-old suit, prompting the plaintiffs to request a default judgment.
Testy Fest never faced the concerted protests that have come to pressure, say, Missoula’s Festival of the Dead. While the Festival of the Dead honored death, rather than facilitating it, it’s been criticized as not being white Missoulians’ to own. Testy Fest, on the other hand, became a tourist draw and a cultural export. But it’s more appropriately imagined as our cultural genitalia: good for a chuckle, but best kept in one’s pants.