Lumberjacks participate in 16th annual Farthest North Sports Festival

Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 8, 2013

Eric Williams pulls a saw during the Double Buck competition at the Farthest North Sports Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

Eric Williams pulls a saw during the Double Buck competition at the Farthest North Sports Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

Last Saturday morning, more than 100 people came to the Fairbanks Experiment Farm to put their lumberjack skills to the test. Wearing Carharts and flannel, participants experienced the forestry techniques of the past at the 16th annual Farthest North Sports Festival held by the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences  and the Resource Management Society. During the event, particpants throw axes, hurl logs, balance on top of a rolling log while floating on Ballaine Lake.

Fourth year returning participant and UAF academic advisor Victoria Smith teamed up with OIT staff member Kelly Gitter, who was attending the games for the first time. “I wanted to throw an axe and have Victoria and I dominate on the team saw,” Glitter said, talking about the Double Buck competition.

Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research Site Manager, Jamie Hollingsworth who has participated in the festival since its beginning in 1997, officiated the Double Buck competition. Before each team, Hollingsworth would give the pair some advice on how to successfully complete the challenge.

“Start with some real short strokes til’ you get a groove cut, once you get a rhythm going, you can lighten the stroke and speed it up,” Hollingsworth said, before starting the stop watch around his neck. With a participant on each end of a four-foot long saw, the two-man team worked together to cut a small chunk off a long rectangular piece of wood. With sawdust flying, Smith and Gitter pulled back and forth until the wood fell to the ground. Gitter and Smith took first in the women’s Double Buck, with Gitter winning an additional title in the female Ax throwing.

Spectator Lael Olmixon brought her two children with her to the games. “I’m having fun watching,” Oldmixon said while her husband Mark Oldmixon and teammate attempted the Log Rolling competition. Using only peaveys,  long sticks with a pointed metal end and an attached mechanical hook that provides leverage, participants are challenged to move a large log precisely into two posts. When one teammate moves too fast, the log becomes asymmetrical and difficult to straighten out against the second post. “It’s better to do it smart than do it fast,” Biology graduate student Tony Hass said, after completing the event.

Participants were able to try the Ax Throwing, Bow Saw, Pulp Toss, Log Rolling and Double Buck until 1 p.m. when  the festival moved to Ballaine Lake. For the birling competition, participants waded out into the water climbing on top of a log with the help of event volunteers. Once atop the two individuals would go head to head, trying to make the other fall off by rolling the log with their feet. Inevitably, one person falls into the water.

Events lasted until 4 p.m. when results were tallied and awards were given out. The prize for best overall male and female participants Belle and Buck of the woods were awarded to Pete Buist and Alice Orlich, who won the title for the second year in a row.

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Competition Results from the UAF SNRAS Science & News blog

Team, Wood Chips: Pete Buist, Glen Holt, Jennifer Yuhas, Paul Keech, Jason Buist.
Ax Throwing: male Mike Potter, female Kelly Gitter
Bow Saw: male Adrian Behr, female Alice Orlich
Pulp Toss: Lumber Jerks
Double Buck: Jason Buist, Pete Buist; Victoria and Kelly
Log Rolling Jack & Jill: Dustin and Jenna
Log Rolling males: Scotty and Jens
Log Rolling females: Alice and Colleen
Campfire Building: the Wood Chips
Birling: male John Harley, female Teri Anderson

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