That’s what you can expect from Hoquiam’s Loggers Playday on Saturday, Sept. 11, at Olympic Stadium.
Forget the fact last year’s event had to be canceled for the first time in more than half a century due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chain saws and fireworks will ring out when the competition gets underway at 6 p.m.
The playday committee met Thursday evening, Sept. 2, “buttoning down everything and getting ready,” said committee chairman Josh Lennox. With the recent wave of COVID cases, “Hopefully there will be no big drastic changes with a week to go with everything that’s going on,” he said.
Don Bell will emcee the event as he has for more than two decades.
“We’ll start the show a little differently this year,” he said. “I’m probably going to have a younger kid from the crowd come down and push a button and shoot off an explosive.”
You’ll get some “probablys” from Bell, he doesn’t like to tip his hat too much before the event — but who likes spoilers anyway?
The field will be mostly local loggers this year, said Lennox, not surprising with restrictions on travel and the like, but will have some of the best the region has to offer in completions including the ax throw, log chopping, ma and pa bucking, choker setting, speed climb, power saw, tree topping, double bucking, spring board chop, obstacle pole, and the really loud and fast hot saw competition.
One travel restrictions casualty is the Loggers Playday clown. AJ Mackenzie performed his first Hoquiam Loggers Playday show in 2018 — he is the son of Paul Mackenzie, who died of cancer shortly after performing at the 2017 event after decades as the Playday clown. AJ lives in Canada and with continued travel restrictions won’t be able to make it this year.
There were some scheduling challenges with Mackenzie unable to perform, leaving some “open time in the show,” but never fear, Bell and the rest of the Playday crew have something new in store slated for right after the fireworks show that normally concludes the event.
“I’ve got a special treat for everybody right after the fireworks. It’s going to be mind-blowing,” said Bell. “I can’t wait to show it off for the crowd.”
The date of the event falls on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and Lennox said there will be a moment of silence. If you’ve been to a show, you know the annual moment of silence is anything but — we’ll have to wait to see what’s in store.
Bell said he’s been blown away by the huge amount of support the community has shown the event this year.
“This is my 24th year emceeing the show and out of all the shows I’ve ever gotten ready for we’ve never had more enthusiasm and more people come forward on the competition side, and the sponsorship side,” said Bell. “T-shirts are selling like hotcakes, and the community has really put the spirit back into Loggers Playday, really coming forward as far as giving to Loggers Playday so we can spread that around to youth baseball teams and all the crazy stuff we do.”
The committee procured two big orders of event T-shirts, featuring a logger shouldering an ax with cleaved COVID-19 cells behind him — “Covid can kiss my axe!” Most of those shirts have been snapped up but Bell said they’ll try to have some available at the show. Classic and new specialty Loggers Playday buttons are available at Harbor Saw and multiple other locations around the region, for $3 apiece they’re your ticket to the show.
This year’s program book will feature Jarrod Todd, a longtime Playday committee member and former chairman, on the cover. “He’s a bull of the woods, one of guys basically in charge of setting up the field” for the competition, said Bell. “He’s been in the timber industry forever.”
The program book will feature two years’ worth of Playday Court royalty, since the 2020 court didn’t get to have the experience of participating in other festivals around the region like the 2021 court has been doing, much less have a show to attend or inclusion in the event program — the 2020 court was, however, featured in a story in The Daily World last September, shortly after the 2020 event had been canceled.
The 2021 court features Queen Kamryn Tate Krohn and princesses Eva Cummings, Yesica Pena, Katie Burnett, Payton Pappan and Emily Watkins, all students at Hoquiam High School. They have been warming up for the Sept. 11 event at festivals like the Morton Loggers Jubilee, the Forks July 4 parade and Rusty Scuppers Pirate Daze in Westport, and will feature prominently in the Hoquiam Elks grand parade starting at noon.
You’re not likely to see the huge assortment of vendors in downtown Hoquiam during the parade. Hoquiam Community Services Director Tracy Wood said around the end of August just 13 vendors had signed up for the event. Normally, she’d have sold out the available 50 slots and be turning people away well ahead of the parade.
While the Rotary breakfast, usually a staple of Loggers Playday, is not happening this year, the Lion’s Club salmon barbecue is a definite go from 2-7 p.m. at Washington School, right next door to the stadium. At 9 p.m., the evening wraps up with live music with band The Six and a dance at the Hoquiam Elks.