Almost all of Oregon’s outdoor festivals have brews, bratwursts and tunes, but only one features lumberjacks.
Axe-throwers, chainsaw-wielders, pole-climbers and log-rollers flocked from all over the state to the annual Fourth of July Estacada Timber Festival. Families gathered on the lawn to cheer on their favorite loggers, some arriving earlier to snag a seat in the shade.
The Timber Festival celebrates Estacada’s deep logging history. Its competition show events — like double bucking, where teams of two work together to saw off the end of a log — are rooted in logging tradition and are an audience favorite.
None of the participants are professional logging competitors but they have the camaraderie of teammates. They exchange jokes and pats on the back between events.
“Almost all of these guys here are local loggers, or they were local loggers,” John Wood said. Wood has been coming to Estacada’s Timber Festival since the early 1980s and he participated in multiple events this year.
“But most all of them are local contestants and that’s the way we try and keep it,” Wood said.
And the local contestants keep coming back.
“Every year there’s always a few new competitors,” said Bud Simpson, last year’s axe throwing champion. “But by and large the same people compete year after year.”
Simpson has competed in the axe throw since 2004 and went to high school with Wood, whose son Daniel has been a contender for the All-Around Logger title for the past several years.
Newcomers to the competition are drawn in by the family-friendly atmosphere.
“It’s a good, clean environment, which is something new for our younger generation,” Jesse Jones said. Jones recently moved to Estacada and this was his first year attending the festival. His daughter ran in the children’s choker setting, which is a race to see who can wrap a rope around a log the fastest.
“It’s good to see the traditions keep going and everyone’s having fun as a family,” he said.
But if 50-foot pole climbing, motorized chainsaws and log-rolling isn’t enough action for the day, there’s always the fireworks display at nightfall.