Hunter Gordon wasn’t just competing against the rest of the male 18-and-older field in Thursday’s nail driving competition. He was competing for bragging rights over his seven brothers.

Gordon, 18, sporting a cowboy hat and boots, entered the competition last year for the first time and messed up, he said, so he needed to redeem himself. He hammered three nails down into the wood board in six seconds flat, which should have earned him some dinner table bragging rights at the family’s Reecer Creek Road home. 

“I grew up on a farm and was home-schooled, so there’s a lot of competition between my seven brothers and four sisters,” Gordon said.

Competitive spirit

The Knudson Lumber Nail Driving Contest has been part of the Kittitas County Fair for about 20 years, off and on. For the past five years, it has been on. 

The competition is separated into five divisions, male and female: Ages 5 and under, 6-10, 11-14, 15-17 and 18 and older. 

Kyle Johnson, 7, and his mother, Carla, each took their turns with the hammer. It was Kyle’s first time in the competition, but not using a hammer. 

“I’ve used it many times,” Kyle said. 

Carla’s friend, Crystal Gansereit, was the last of the group to go. As with Kyle, this was Gansereit’s first time in the competition, so Carla gave her some advice.

“Go harder, not faster,” Carla said. “Slow and steady wins the race.”

While hammering, participants do not have a hand on the nail, eliminating some of the danger of the competition. Safety goggles are available, though most went untouched and coaches were at each station to offer any help. 

“He could hurt himself worse falling off the couch,” Carla said about her son.

The volunteers were all Knudson employees, and Blake Hale emceed the event. Marty Shelley typically emcees, but since he was on vacation, Hale took over. 

“It’s definitely a fun family activity,” Hale said. “You’re able to see young kids and old having fun.”


Hale, who has been with Knudson since March, enjoyed the job and said the whole competition was more fast-paced than he imagined. 

“I see most of the adults on a daily basis, so it’s nice to see them outside of a work environment,” Hale said.

The Gordons weren’t the only family well-represented at the contest. 

Maggie Hudson won second place for 5 and under while her sister, Madeline, took home third in the 6-10 division with a time of 13 seconds. Their brother, David, won first place in the 11-14 division with a time of 6.28 seconds. 

Vivian Hudson, 6, also competed in the event. Both Vivian and Maggie said they don’t plan on doing it next year. Vivian said it was hard and Maggie was hoping it would have been more fun. 

The overall winner in the male 18 and older category was Jack Matthews. Matthews finished with a time of 2.89 seconds. 

While Hunter Gordon did not take home a prize Thursday evening, his brother Taylor did. Last year, the Gordon brothers entered their father into the contest without telling him first.  

“The look on his face was hilarious,” Hunter Gordon said. 

They didn’t prank their father this year, but Hunter played the same trick on his boss. He already has someone in mind for next year’s fair.

“Maybe my mom next year,” he said.


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