Wet, windy weather did not dampen the spirits of the Old Mill Days event in Port Gamble, Washington. Unfortunately, many events such as the MMA cage warriors and “Toughest Timberman” competitions were canceled for safety reasons.
The artistic skills of chainsaw wood and ice carvers were enjoyed by many who braved the elements. Vendors of art, clothing, handicrafts and food endured the cold winds and rain as they displayed their creations. Visitors clad in rain gear and plastic capes juggled umbrellas, hot drinks and delicious salmon soup served in fresh bread bowls. Other visitors gathered around the grounds to watch the impressive Olympic Lumberjack competition.
Approximately 40 world class athletes competed in 14 events for a piece of the $7,000 in prize money. The 7th Annual Port Gamble Forest Festival and Lumberjack Competition is rising in popularity and is focused on becoming one of the premier lumberjack events in North America.
The Forest Festival provided visitors an opportunity to explore our natural environment and opportunities in the outdoors. The Lumberjack Competition had the crowds cheering for their favorites in the following events:
• Standing Block Chop – Competitors race to chop through 12 – 14 inches of a vertical log. They must chop from both sides of a log mimicking the act of felling a tree.
• Springboard Chop – This challenging event was more daring in the falling rain. Competitors use an axe to chop grooves into a 9 foot pole then, place a 6-inch board into the groove which serves as a platform. Contestants balance on the platform while chopping on the pole, they insert a second platform and race to chop through the log mounted on the top of the pole. The lumbermen displayed a high level of skills in strength and balance.
• Stock Saw – This event is a true test of operator skills. The competitor uses a chainsaw to make two cuts through a log. They have only four inches of wood to work with and must display precision as well as speed.
• Axe Throw – The popular axe throw is a favorite for people of all ages. The goal is to hit the bulls-eye on a target that is set at the height of five feet. Competitors throw a double-edged axe from a 20 foot distance. They have three attempts to show their skills as they focus on the target.
• Single Buck –This event is a test of brute strength and endurance as the lumberman must make one cut through a log using a single man cross-cut saw. Each competitor is timed until the log is completely cut.
• Underhand Chop – This competition tests the balance, strength and precision skills of each contestant. Competitors chop through a log with a racing axe while they stand with their feet apart, on a 12 to 14 inch log. During the chopping process they must turn and complete the cut from the other direction.
• Hot Saw – The contestants use a customized chainsaw with a modified engine. The goal is to make three cuts in a six inch section of wood. They must saw complete cookies (the circular piece of wood that has been sawed off).
Visitors to Old Mill Days enjoyed the events despite the cold, wet weather. The Old Mill Days committee was very helpful to all who braved the elements to enjoy the festivities. Commendations should also be extended to all the vendors and chainsaw artisans who continued to make the event as pleasant as possible.
Beautiful chainsaw wood carvings by Anthony Robinson were created and displayed amidst the canopies. Native Beach Accessories displayed impressive driftwood carvings and handcrafted beach stone jewelry. (See images of their artistry in the slide show). Critter Carvings by Matthew Whited brought the spirit of the forest to the observer. The international skills of Tomas Vrba were also on display in the outstanding sea life creations. Many award winning wood and ice chainsaw carvers endured the elements to showcase their artistic skills and bring beauty to a wet, gray weekend.
The members of the Washington Youth Academy presented a pristine example of youth in action. They marched onto the soggy, muddy grounds and maintained a well-ordered team of focused individuals who kept the grounds clean and safe for all artisans, vendors and visitors.
As the final cleanup comes to a close, and the sounds of chainsaws subside we bid farewell to Port Gamble. Everyone who endured the wet weather, from event coordinators, sponsors, timbermen, lumberjacks, chainsaw artisans, the various entertainers and spectators deserve a round of applause for their passion and support of the great outdoors and Old Mill Days 2013. Competitors, artisans and outdoor enthusiasts eagerly await Old Mill Days 2014.
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