Logger's jamboree fun & festivities over holiday weekend

Community CorrespondentJune 24, 2014 

Logging events, celebrating the once life-blood of North Fork, will take center stage Saturday and Sunday, July 5 and 6, during the 55th Annual Mid-Sierra Loggers Jamboree held at Recreation Center.

The jamboree features Saturday's Pro-Am competitions, horseshoe tournament, parade, community dinner, and a night of dancing under the stars during which time the new Jamboree Queen will be crowned.

Sunday starts with a pancake breakfast and ends with the Professional logging competitions including tree felling and log birling.

Saturday's Pro-Am events consist of a logging amateur and a professional, teaming up to compete in four events: axe throw, choker setting, stock power saw and double hand bucking.

Axe throw, a crowd favorite, has contestants throwing an axe with a double bit head weighing at least 2.5 pounds and a handle 24 inches or longer, at a 36 inch target 20 feet away. Object is to hit the beer can in the middle of the target, spraying brew in all directions.

Choker setting sees contestants run approximately 100 feet, leaping over logs, picking up a choker and running back to set and buckle the choker on the end log. Chokers were used in this manner while logging, to provide a means to move the log.

Stock power saw uses identical saws provided by Wood Choppers Supply in Oakhurst. Contestants try to be the fastest to cut through the 28-inch log.

Double hand bucking is a Jack and Jill event with teams attempting to be first to saw through an 18-inch log using a standard double-handles falling or bucking saw.

The popular horseshoe tournament will begin at noon, and all Mountain Area horseshoe players are encouraged to enter.

The jamboree parade begins at 5 p.m., and will travel down Main Street from La Cabana restaurant, to Town Hall where there is a community dinner ($10 adults- $5 children). The Boy Little Logger and the Girl Little Logger will both be announced at the dinner.

The gates at Recreation Center will open at 8 p.m. for the Wood Choppers Ball which will feature dancing to the sounds of Wolf Hamlin and the Front Porch Drifters. A barbecuewill be available at the event. At 8:30 p.m., the 2014 Jamboree Queen will be announced. Tickets cost $10 per person at the gate or $5 presale at thewoodchoppersball.ticketleap.com.

Sunday will start at Town Hall with the North Fork Lions Club pancake breakfast from 7-10 a.m. At 10 the gates open for Jamboree and the competitions begin at noon. In addition to some of the events from Saturday, the day will include Hand Chopping, Ladies Axe Throw, Hot Power Saw, Ladies Stock Power Saw, Tree Felling and Log Birling,

Hand chopping is performedon a12-inch log with an axe.

Ladies Axe Throw follows the same rules as for the men.

Men's and Women's Hot Power Saw is one of the crowd's favorite events. There contestants saw up to a 40-inch log using any saw that originally was a chain saw and has only one engine attached to the bar. These modified saws generally run on high power fuel, often from a mix of methanol and nitro which the contestant supplies.

Tree Felling is unique to this jamboree,according to Mike Morrow who will be competing in his 41st North Fork jamboree. The object is to cut down a 30 foot pole with such precision it lands on a beer can. Accuracy, not speed, is the key.

Log birling is traditionally the last event of the day, where a logger tries to balance on a floating log for a longer time than his competitor. The contest is held in the swimming hole which North Fork children enjoy during summer. The jamboree raises the money to provide the free summer program for the area children.

Royalty, the Queen and Little Loggers, win the title by selling the most pre-sale tickets to the jamboree. Sunday tickets which are $2 per person in advance or $5 at the gate with children under 11 free. Saturdays are $5 at the gate and again free for children under 11.

Industry history

The logging industry in North Fork is well documented, dating back to April 1, 1943, when the first log was sawed into lumber at the new Associated Lumber and Box Co., situated on 135 acres just west of town. More than nine million board feet of lumber was cut at the mill the first year by the company with about 135 employees at the mill and loggers in the forest .

In 1968, the mill had an annual payroll of $1.2 million.

In 1992, about 84 million board feet of lumber was processed at the mill and dropped to 64 million board feet the following year under new governmental regulations for forest management.

The new restrictions and the rising costs of operating the mill began to make the mill less and less profitable. Layoffs began in 1991 and at noon on Feb. 25, 1994, the last log went through the mill.

Jamboree history

The Loggers Jamboree started when the North Fork Boosters leased three acres of land on the South Fork of Willow Creek from PG&E for a play area for the town's children.

In 1959, PG&E decided to sell 11 acres along Willow Creek, including the community swimming hole, and the Boosters purchased the land for $2,800.

The idea of a Loggers Jamboree came from the need to pay back a loan for the purchase of the land and to make improvements to the property including a softball field and playground equipment.

The event is produced by the North Fork Boosters as a fundraiser for upkeep and operation of the North Fork Recreation Center.

Details: Cathey Thornburg, (559) 676-7766, northforkboosters.org.

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