Logs and lumberjacks at annual Far North Forest Sports festival

Brix Hahn/Sun Star
October 9, 2012

Sam Braband and teammate compete to saw through a thick block of wood in the crosscut competition at the 15th annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival on on October 6th 2012. Cordero Reid/Sun Star

Last Saturday, over 50 people congregated in the experimental farm across from the botanical gardens to throw stumps of wood, roll tree trunks, throw axes and saw logs in celebration of the annual Far North Forest Sports Festival.

Fifteen years ago, UAF professors Harry Bader, John Fox and David Valentine brainstormed the idea of hosting a forest sports festival for the community.

“We started it kind of as a publicity and a public relations event to let people know about traditional forest events, and we’ve been doing it every year since,” said Valentine, a Forest Soils Professor.

The organizers of the Far North Forest Sports Festival are mainly from the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and the Forest Science Department.

Nathan Heering, co-president of the Resource Management Society, helped organize the festival this year by selling t-shirts, assisting participants with signing up for events and helping them complete liability wavers.

“[The purpose] of the event is to get out and have fun one last time before the snow flies,” Heering said.

Additionally, the object of the fair is to bring attention to natural resource management and forest programs.

The event attracted a large variety of participants who took part in sports such as log throwing,which is similar to playing horseshoes; log peaveying, rolling a giant log from one mark to another, and throwing an axe at a bulls eye target made of plywood.

Sam Braband, the Outdoor Adventures Facility Manager for UAF was donning tattered Carhartts, a flannel he found at the transfer station,  red suspenders with “Homer” and “Alaska” written down the front of each side and Xtra tuffs.

“I’m not judging events, I’m participating,” Braband said. “This is my first year participating. I like it so far. It’s a lot of fun. I really think it captures the spirit of logging and of Fairbanks in general.

“I was the Bull of the Woods last year, so I made a sash for this year [out of Duct tape and black Sharpie],” said Thomas Robinson, a community member.

Robinson had won the Far North Forest Sports Festival last year and credits his success to previously working in the forest industry.

“[The scores] are accumulative, if I didn’t do so well in the event [axe throwing], I may have done really well in other events,” Robinson said. “I worked on a trail crew for three summers. I have a lot of experience with axes and saws. I was in the back country so I didn’t have power tools.”

The last event of the fair, fire building, was held at Baline Lake where participants were divided into teams, given a bit of firewood, a match, and a small hatchet.

“You basically have to get your own fire going. It’s pretty bare bones. You’re timed so the fastest team to [start a fire] is the winner,” Heering said.

The event began Saturday morning and lasted well into the afternoon, attracting children and adults despite the cold temperature and rain.

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