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71st Annual Loggers’ Jubilee a Success

By Lisa Broadt / lbroadt@chronline.com

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Both sat on the west side of the field on Saturday, but Renee Geerards and Dick Martin saw the 71st Loggers’ Jubilee from very different vantage points.

Peering through the viewfinder of her video camera, Geerards saw the Loggers’ Jubilee — and Morton’s rich traditions — for the first time, as she captured snippets for a Dutch travel show.

Martin, on the other hand, could remember the feel of the misery whip, used in the Jubilee, which, he says, has not changed much since the 1940s when he was a competitor.

At 93, Martin is one of the oldest competitors to return to the event.

Sitting in a wheelchair on the sidelines, Martin said that when he entered the Jubilee he didn’t know what he was getting into.

“I thought, I’m used to pulling a saw, so this will be no problem,” Martin recalled about his confidence as a 20-year-old logger.

“I wish I’d had better times,” he said, laughing.

Martin, then a Weyerhaeuser employee, finished 13th of 26 competitors: “Right in the middle,” he said.

Many of the events have remained the same, he said.

The wood blocks, however, were red fir in the 1940s. Now they’re Alder.

“Red fir is quite a bit harder,” he said. “Every once in awhile you’d run into a hard part — we called them bull knots. It was like hitting flint.”

It was the first time the Tacoma man, a father of six, had returned to the Jubilee.

Everything was new, however, for Geerards: the American flag — described by one volunteer as “ginormous by gargantuan” — which recently returned from Afghanistan; the Loggers’ Jubilee Queen Amber St. Pierre and Princess Hannah Kolb riding into the arena on pickup trucks; and, of course, the chopping, climbing, axing, suspenders and sawdust that define Morton’s annual three-day festival.

Geerards, the camera woman, was traveling cross-country with the hose and the producer of 30preis, a travel show broadcast in Holland on the BNN channel, one of the country’s eight national networks.

The team’s cross-country trip will end in Alaska.

According to Geerards, they have chosen to stop at “the interesting stuff along the roads” — including the Loggers’ Jubilee.

It’s not the first time the Jubilee has received national attention; in past years it has been promoted in “USA Today.”

Though not in attendance this year, professional loggers from Australia and New Zealand often visit Morton’s traditional event.

Part of the draw, Aaron Bell said, is that the Jubilee is a professional show which allows competitors to gain points in the international Steel Timber Sports competition.

At the center of Saturday’s event, attended by more than 400, was the logging competition.

Brian Bartow, Molalla, Ore., was named “Bull of the Woods,” the highest honor at the Jubilee, reserved for the best overall competitor. Branden Sirguy, Port Angeles, was the runner up.

Chrissy Ramsey won the Bing Award.

With a time of 1.2 seconds, Josh Stoken, Hoquiam, set a new record in the hot saw competition, according to event organizer Linda Mettler.

Individual event winners were: Choker setting, Jake Forester, Idleyld, Ore. (16.5 seconds); Horizontal chop, Brian Bartow (20.4 seconds); Axe throw, David Moses Jr., Snoqualmie; Speed climbing, Brian Bartow (19.31 seconds); Vertical chop, Mike Forrester, Idleyld, Ore. (19.24); Hot saw, Josh Stoken, Hoquiam, (1.2 seconds); Stock saw, Brian Sheridan, Hoquiam (7.5 seconds); Springboard chop, Walt Page, Toll House, Calif. (57.05 seconds); Jack ‘N Jill, Brandon Sirguy and Katie Sirguy (7.3 seconds); Tree topping, Brian Bartow (56.5 seconds); Double bucking, Walt Page and Brandon Sirguy, (9.46 seconds); Birling, Brian Bartow; Jill ‘N Jill, Annette Moses and Natasha Strand.

“It was one of our more perfect weekends,” Mettler said. “The weather was perfect and the crowds were awesome.”

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