For the third time in five years, Portland native Brian Bartow claimed the All-Around Logger title Saturday during the 48th Annual Loggers Playday at Olympic Stadium.
“This is a community I’ve come to really appreciate,” said Bartow, who shared the title with Mike Forrester last year and last won it outright in 2008. “There’s nothing quite like a night show here with such an amazing crowd that really appreciates what all of us are doing.”
Bartow is a master climber, often speeding up a giant spar pole in seconds and doing an almost free fall down.
“You just don’t even think about it,” said Bartow, 33, who travels everywhere from China to New Zealand competing and doing exhibitions. “You just drop.”
For the third year in a row, Moclips logger Lee Pickett was declared Local High-Point Logger. His three bulls-eyes in a row at the local ax throw competition helped seal the title.
“It’s been years and years since I got three bulls-eyes,” Pickett said. “You just have to breathe and then ‘pow.’ ”
Pickett said this year’s contest was memorable for him because it was the first time in recent memory, he said, he was able to compete head-to-head with his brother Darrel.
“I just owe so much to my brother, you just don’t know,” Pickett said.
Darrel, for his part, put on a bit of his own show during a break in the competition by carving off a chunk of standing timber a few feet from the stands at Olympic Stadium and letting the top of the log fall several feet below to crush an old Volkswagen Beetle. The crowd roared.
Throughout the show, the All-Around Logger title was neck and neck between Bartow, Forrester, Rob Waibel and Mel Lentz — all of whom have claimed the title in the past at Loggers Playday.
New to the competition this year was the springboard chop. In the event, competitors work their way up a 9-foot tall tree by chopping wedges out of the tree and placing spring boards to stand on. The loggers race to the top to sever a block of wood.
Hoquiamite T.J. Bexten has been competing in the event in other logging competitions and said he was thrilled to see it added to Loggers Playday.
“It’s challenging because if you don’t chop the wedges in just right, you could fall back,” Bexten said.
Bexten ended up placing first in the event with just over a minute and four seconds.
Waibel placed second with just over a minute and seven seconds.
“I think it’s great Loggers Playday changed things up and added the spring board,” Waibel said. “This is one of my favorite events.”
Another change was in a choker setting event where competitors had to race across a log in water and rap a chain around another log. The log in the water used to be chained down so competitors would keep their balance. Instead, the chains were removed and it became a free fall with more than one competitor diving into the water.
• Raymond native James Lev took fourth in double-hand bucking and fourth in the log chop category. Lev says it’s only the second time in two years he’s competed. With his priorities on a new family and his job, he hasn’t been able to compete as much as he wanted.
“It feels great to be out here,” Lev said.
• Hoquiam native Josh Stoken took fifth in the ax throw, fifth in spring board, second in local double hand bucking, and fourth in power saw. Stoken said this is only the second year he’s been competing professionally. “I’m trying and every year I’m seeing improvement,” said Stoken, who owns Ace Logging.
Stoken said he’s practicing with Bexten and Lentz, who has been in Hoquiam helping the two with training.
“We’re training every day,” Bexten said. “This is our dream.”
The Loggers Playday parade drew 112 entries — featuring everything from princess floats from Sequim to clowns from Astoria, Ore.
Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney’s favorite was the Lighthouse Ballet Academy in Hoquiam, with more than a dozen girls and one boy who donned flannel apparel on top and a pink tutu on bottom and performed random ballet routines in the middle of the parade.
The parade also served as a political stop-over for several Republicans seeking statewide office — Attorney General candidate Reagan Dunn, Auditor candidate James Watkins and Marilyn McKenna, the wife of gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, as well as congressional candidate Bill Driscoll. There were also many Republican and Democratic candidates seeking legislative and local offices.
And for all of the talk of controversy surrounding the Loggers Playday T-shirt, there were all sorts of alternative T-shirts created for those wishing to avoid the shirt lampooning Wild Olympics and the parade route.