NORTH FORK — The tradition continues this weekend, July 2 and 3, as the 57th annual Mid Sierra Loggers Jamboree rolls into North Fork.
This annual competition celebrates the past and keeps the tradition alive, pitting amateur and professional loggers against each other in categories such as axe throwing, hot saws, log rolling and many others.
The Jamboree was born out of need to raise funds to support and improve the 11-acre site along Willow Creek, purchased in the late 50s by the North Fork Boosters as a community recreation area.
In the mid-20th century, logging was the major industry in this mountain town, and loggers were excited to demonstrate their skills using the tools of their trade – saws, axes and chokers. The Jamboree has now become a mainstay of the summer season in North Fork, with the money raised used to maintain the Rec Center and the Town Hall.
On Saturday the gates open at the Rec Center at 8 a.m. Admission is $5, kids under 12 are free. Pro-Am logging events start at 10 a.m., and the Horseshoe Tournament gets underway at noon.
After a day of hot competition, the Jamboree Parade will step off at 5 p.m., with life-long resident Bill Vanderburgh being honored as this year’s Grand Marshal. Bill’s sister Betty Martin was the very first Loggers Jamboree Queen back in 1959.
The parade will be followed by a community dinner at the Town Hall at 6 p.m., where the winner of the title Little Logger will announced. Adults are $10, kids under 12 are $5.
The Woodchoppers Ball kicks off at 8 p.m., featuring Jesse Daniel and the Slow Learners. The new Jamboree Queen will be coronated as revelers dance the night away under the stars. 2015 Jamboree Queen Heather Lutz will be passing the crown to one of the three candidates vying for the title: Rylee Machey, sponsored by the Buckhorn Saloon; Daisey Allison, sponsored by Slims Koffee Shak; and Halle Lutz, sponsored by Gas ‘n Stuff.
On Sunday, the much-anticipated and always popular Lions Club pancake breakfast will be served up at the Town Hall from 7 to 10 a.m.
The gates at the Rec Center open at 10 a.m. when the early birds will start arriving to stake out a spot in the shade. At noon, Sugar Pine kicks off the day’s activities with the singing of the national anthem, and the Professional Competition gets underway with events like log rolling, the axe throw and the hot saw competition.
Popular events like the hot saw competition have competitors handling huge chainsaws attempting to cut a slice from a large log as quickly as possible. In the tree-felling competition, loggers cut down logs as tall as trees, directing their fall to hit a specific spot. Each competition takes strength, skill and stamina.
Probably the most popular event is the axe throw, where competitors do their best to hit a round of wood dead-center, puncturing a beer can embedded in the center that has been shaken up to explode when the axe strikes it.
Len Nielson, Cal Fire Unit Forester, will be defending his title from 2015, when he won by just one point in his first entry in the Jamboree.
All proceeds from the Jamboree go into The North Fork Boosters General Fund to keep local facilities, programs, and events going year after year. In between the competition’s events there are local food vendors and crafts to purchase, and if you feel the need to cool then off then head down to the swimming area for a dip.
For more information please contact Cathey Thornburg at 559-676-7766.
The North Fork Rec Center is located at 33507 Road 230 in North Fork.
(Images courtesy of the North Fork Boosters)