In a runaway victory, Nathan Hodges was crowned champion at the 57th Annual Mid-Sierra Loggers Jamboree in North Fork last weekend, as the hometown favorite scored his eighth title win by a margin of more than 20 points.
Hodges won All-Around Logger with a score of 46.5, including first-place finishes in choker setting, the stock power saw, and axe throw.
He was followed by last year’s winner Len Nielson at 24.5 points, and Aaron Morrow at 23. Hodges, who had won four championships in a row before last year’s single-point loss to Nielson, said it felt great to reclaim the title.
“I stepped up my game a little bit,” said Hodges, 32 and owner of All Phase Construction in North Fork. “There was a lot of mental focus, which is what it really came down to this year. I just really, really wanted to win. And when I really try, that’s what happens.”
The Hodges family has a strong history of competing in the jamboree. Nathan’s father Patrick Hodges, mother Cathy Hubbell, brother Jerry Hodges, and sister Amanda Hodges also competed this year, with Jerry winning the tree falling and birling competitions while Cathy placed second in the ladies power saw.
Nielson, competing in the jamboree for his second time, congratulated Hodges on his victory.
“I came here to have a good time,” Nielson said. “That’s what it’s all about ... I believe he was a bit more prepared and he did really well, so congratulations to him, for sure. ”
Nielson took first place in hand chopping and the Jack & Jill double hand bucking event with his 18-year-old daughter Rebekka.
Other first place finishers included: Sheri Pinkerton in the ladies axe throw; Susie Lavell in the ladies power saw; Josh Cornelison in the hot power saw; and Mike and Aaron Morrow in double hand bucking.
Nathan Hodges and Gino Brancato won first place in the Pro-Am competitions July 2, while Justin Wilson scored victory in the junior axe throw, Mike Morrow won in the jackpot working saw, and Jerry Hodges was first in the Jason Taylor Axe Throw for $500.
Jamboree raises more than $25,000
The two-day competition, held at the North Fork Recreation Center, saw some of its highest attendance in history, event chair Jesse Hutchens said.
Final numbers weren’t available, but Cathey Thornburg estimated the event, sponsored by the North Fork Boosters, brought in more than 2,000 spectators and raised more than $25,000, with all proceeds going to the youth summer program at the rec center.
“This is very important, it helps keep our summer program alive and running,” Hutchens said. “It did very well. We had a great turnout, and it’s always good to support our area with such a fun event.”
Guests enjoyed all the logging events, as well as numerous vendor booths, a parade, the Tim Punkin Memorial Horseshoe Pitching Tournament, North Fork Lions Club Pancake Breakfast, Wood Choppers Ball, a dinner and coronation of Little Logger Sebastian Quigley and Little Princess Mabis Labell, and the crowning of the Jamboree Queen Halle Lutz, whose sister Heather Lutz won last year.
Mark Smyth of Ahwahnee, clad in American flag shorts and a hat, said he loved attending the jamboree every year.
“It’s a tradition,” Smyth said. “It’s all about bringing in local people for a really great event. I mean, where else can you get any kind of great, old-school entertainment for five bucks? I doubt there’s anything else that comes close to this.”
District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler agreed and said the jamboree was a huge success.
“We had a big crowd and more contestants than we’ve had for a couple years,” Wheeler said. “For the people who haven’t seen a loggers jamboree, it’s exciting, loud, and a lot of fun for the whole family.”
Bill Vanderburgh, a lifetime resident of North Fork, was Grand Marshal.
Details: (559) 877-7700, www.northforkboosters.org.
2016 Mid Sierra Loggers Jamboree Results
1st Nathan Hodges/Gino Brancato
2nd Aaron Morrow/William Hope
3rd Bill Davis/Nick Garrett
4th Pete Curtis/Carl Minton
Junior Axe Throw
1st Justin Wilson
2nd Keegen Mackey
3rd Ashlee Nichols
4th Lee Lawler
Jackpot Working Saw
1st Mike Morrow
2nd Bill Antill
3rd Josh Cornelison
4th Aaron Morrow
Jason Taylor Axe Throw Winner
Note: This is a winner take all event with a $500 purse this year. There was an exciting 3 way throw off with Jerry winning after a few ties.
Stock Power Saw
Ladies Axe Throw
Ladies Power Saw
Hot Power Saw
Double Hand Bucking
Mike Morrow/Aaron Morrow
Len Nielson/Rebekka Nielson
Nathan Hodges/Pat Hodges
Jerry Hodges/J.B. Hodges
Jack and Jill
Len Nielson/Rebekka Nielson
Nathan Hodges/Lani Owen
J.B. Thornburg/Jen Thornburg