Festival attracts ‘lumberjack’ athletes

2.B Forest Fest_DSC0137.jpg

Zach Goeden, (in the red trunks on the left), and John Hutchinson, (in the black pants on the right), competing in the final round of the birling competition at Ballaine Lake for the final event of the day of the 19th Annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival on Saturday Oct. 8th. Sarah Manriquez/Photo Editor

Woodsmen, lumberjacks, loggers, students, staff and alumni crawled out of the woodwork Saturday, Oct. 8 to compete in the 19th Annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival. The event was free to participate in and was made possible by the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension, the Resource Management Society and countless volunteers donating their time and efforts.

The competition kicked off at 10 a.m., parked cars lining the way to the sign-up table at the Fairbanks Experimental Farm Fields across from the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

“A faculty member [in 1998] thought it would be a cool idea to celebrate some of these old logging sports by holding an event of our own,” David Valentine said.

Valentine has been at every single event since its inception. He has worked for UAF for twenty years and currently serves as the director of academic programs for the school of natural resources and extension.

Advanced tools are standard for forest professionals today, but the festival pays tribute to a time in our history when traditional woodworking skills were essential for not only work but everyday living.

Events include the pulp throw, bow saw, fire building, log rolling, birling, jack and jill cross cut, axe throw and more.

1. Forest Fest- Savanna Burke - Amelia's Saw.jpg

Competiting in the Jack and Jill Crosscut event and sawing for the fatest time, Amelia Sikes, muscles her way through the last of the log with help from her friend Cynthia Nelson. The ladies both serve on the council for the Natural Resource Management Society that help make Forrest Fest possible every year.” Savanna Burke/Sun Star

“You can look at each event and trace that back to some skill that loggers would want to have,” Valentine said.

With the pulp throw, there are two stakes designating the area in which competitors must work in a team to individually toss 4-foot-long logs between stakes. Each time a log lands exactly between the stakes the group receives a point. Each team member must attempt to throw logs until they reach sixteen points. The event is timed and the team with the fastest recorded time wins. The idea behind the event is to emphasize the need to stack wood quickly and accurately.

The cutting events, both the individual bow saw and the team jack and jill crosscut are also timed events and emphasize the necessity of cutting wood both quickly and accurately.

4. Forest Festival- Sarah Manriquez.jpg

Zach Goeden (in the red trunks on the left) tests his balance and agility against Adam Koegle (blue shirt on the right) at this year's 19th Annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival. Two inches of ice had to be broken through on Ballaine Lake Saturday morning Oct. 8th in order to get the log in the water and clear a spot for the birling event. Sarah Manriquez/ Photo Editor

A crowd favorite, the birling event takes place on Ballaine Lake. A full sized log is brought down into the water. This year they had to break through 2 inches of ice on Ballaine Lake and clear a sizeable space for the event to even take place.Two competitors stand on either side of the log and attempt to out balance their opponent while the log rolls in the water. Historically, big log rafts floated down rivers to get logs from the place they were cut to market or to mill. The ability to balance well on logs was a skill that was needed.

3. Forest Fest- Sarah Manriquez_DSC0060.jpg

Tanja Schollmeier tests her aim at the axe throw Saturday morning at the Fairbanks Experimental Farm Field for the 19th Annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival Oct. 8th. The event is free every year for particpants and made possible by the UAF School of Natural Resources and the many volunteers who donate their time and efforts. Sarah Manriquez/ Photo Editor

“Axe throwing… I don’t know if there’s real purpose to that,” Valentine said “other than [loggers] were probably sitting around at camp having contests of their own.”

Every year 2 overall winners are crowned as bull of the woods and bell of the woods. Additionally, there is a winning team and then the individual winners for each event.

The event happens every October on the first or second Saturday of the month.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *