The 20th annual Saginaw Days logging show roars into North River today.
The free show includes all the traditional contests, and then some. Folks can sit right up close to the action, and attendees are invited to participate in many of the events.
Registration begins at 10 a.m. in the field next to the Brooklyn Tavern. Opening ceremonies will take place at 11, and the competition is expected to run until about 4 p.m.
Among the familiar faces will be longtime competitor Reggie Mays, 76, and his son Ed. Both are tree fallers.
“Ed and Reggie are kind of the mainstay contestants every year,” says co-organizer Maryann Welch.
But Mays is bowing out this year and volunteering instead as an official judge and timer. “I’ve had my day,” he smiles.
While Saginaw Days used to be open only to local non-professional loggers, the field has opened up in recent years. Pros entered the mix awhile back, and now people are starting to come out from as far as Buckley to participate.
“They add a lot of flavor and a lot of spice to the show,” says Mays. “Most of our people have gotten too old, so we needed new blood.”
As always, there will be choker setting (regular and obstacle), bucking (single, double and chainsaw), ax throw, log rolling, pole falling (aiming to hit a beer can on the ground) and speed climbing – assuming enough people sign up for that event.
“We haven’t really had a lot of climbers lately because it’s just not something they do in the woods anymore,” says Welch. “It’s kind of a lost art,” adds Mays.
In addition, there will be two separate women-only contests: double bucking and ax throw.
“Women can enter (these events) anyway with the men, but we’re going to set it up so that just the women can compete with each other, too,” says Welch, who competes occasionally herself.
One major event that was added last year will continue: the loggers relay.
“I was skeptical because I don’t like change,” grins Mays. “But it turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser.”
It involves teams of four people. The first one on each team has to dive into the log-rolling pond to grab the choker, then run and set it; after that, two team members pick up a bucking saw and cut through a log; and finally, the fourth member must cut a log with a chainsaw and then jump into the pond to stop the timer.
As always, Doug Zepp will serve as emcee. He’s been an active part of Saginaw Days since the beginning.
“Doug is the hub. The rest of us are kind of the spokes,” says Mays. “He was born with a power saw in one hand and a choker in the other.”
Saginaw Days winners go home with medallions, not cash. “They just do it for the pride and for the fun,” says Mays. “The crowd cheers for them, and they get a big bang out of it.”
Children will be able to dig through a haystack for coins and candy, and for the first time there will be a kids-only tug-of-war.
Lou Parsons will haul in his 1890 steam donkey as usual for log-moving demonstrations – “and, of course, the whistle that everybody loves,” winks Welch.
A restored rigging shack full of specialized logging tools will also be on display. The small structure and others like it used to be transported on rail “speeders” to various locations as needed, May says.
Hoquiam chainsaw artist Brandon Levesque will return to demonstrate his craft after making his Saginaw Days debut last year. “He was quite a hit,” said Welch. “He does smaller things that people can pack away with them.”
In the way of food and drink, vendors will offer coffee, elephant ears, corn dogs and more; and the adjacent North River Grange Hall will serve up hamburgers and hot dogs.
Official Saginaw Days hats, buttons and T-shirts will be sold during the event. The Brooklyn Tavern also will hawk its merchandise.
In addition, Bill Lindstrom of Matlock will be there to sell his new book and operate an informative display on John Tornow, “the Wild Man of the Wynoochee.” Also, representatives from the Appelo Archives Center of Naselle will offer books on logging history.
To get to Saginaw Days, take U.S. 101 south toward Raymond (or north toward Cosmopolis). Just south of the Artic Pub, turn east onto River Road. Stay on River for almost 17 miles, and the field will be on the left in between the Brooklyn Tavern and the Grange Hall. Parking is on the right, across from the Grange Hall.
Admission to the show is free, though donations are encouraged.