Sawdust was flying at Runje Park in Roslyn over the weekend as contestants and spectators alike took in the sights and sounds of the High Country Log Show.

The event was first held in 2011 as part of Roslyn’s 125th anniversary and has become an Upper County fixture on Labor Day weekend. Contestants celebrate the logging heritage of the area with events including axe throwing and chainsaw competitions.

Every year the event honors an Upper County resident who has had a career in logging by crowning a Bull of the Woods. This year’s honors went to Larry Bannister. According to a biography piece written on him, Bannister began his career in logging in 1961, spending time in the Teanaway, Meadowcreek and Lake Kachess areas plying his trade. He retired from the industry in 1980 and shifted his interest to carpentry, something he does to this day.

“I would like to thank everyone who nominated me for this honor,” he said in the biography. “And thank you to everybody who is a part of the High Country Log Show who are able to put on an outstanding and fun event that showcases what loggers do for a living. It gets better every year.”

ORGANIZATION

Lindsey Flowers and her husband, Ben, have been involved in organizing the event since its conception in 2011. The couple is from Upper County, and Ben has a history working in the logging business. After traveling to other similar events in the state held in Deming and Buckley on the West Side, they became interested in creating one to celebrate the timber heritage of our region.

“We thought, ‘Why can’t Roslyn have a log show of our own?’” she said.

The event is organized by a group of board members that operate as a nonprofit organization. Each year, the show gives out a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating high school senior within the county and maintains a $1,000 Christmas fund for the Putnam Centennial Senior Center in Cle Elum. Various businesses sponsor the event, and a team of approximately 50 volunteers pitch in to make it a success. Flowers said the collective participation is what keeps the show going every year.

“It’s all volunteer,” she said. “There’s nobody that’s getting paid.”

Participation numbers and attendance has grown since the event began in 2011. Flowers said they didn’t keep track of the exact numbers in the first couple years, but in 2013 there were 32 competitors. This year’s event drew 75 adult competitors and 20 in the junior class.

“It’s definitely growing,” she said. “I think that people have a little bit more interest in the heritage of it, and a lot of them are involved in the community and have ties with their family in the logging industry. They want to learn more and see more and be part of a good fun family event.”

Flowers said the growth of the show has also been apparent in the number of spectators that come each year. She said rough crowd estimates have shown between 1,000 to 3,000 fans showing up on a given day.

“There’s a lot going on in Roslyn over Labor Day weekend,” she said. “I think that the setting is appealing to people. The location and the area have a lot to do with that.”

Flowers said most of the competitors come from the Pacific Northwest and tend to compete alongside each other at the other large shows in the region. The sense of community keeps the log shows operating year after year.

“Over the years we’ve seen many of the same competitors,” she said. “Everybody gets to know each other really well.”

Although the timber industry is not what it once was both in size and scope, Flowers said logging shows like Roslyn’s continue to educate people about the industry and its connection with the region.

“I think it’s really important to continue to showcase what happens,” she said. “It’s definitely an athletic sport, but it’s also showing what goes on and what it takes to cut down something, and the equipment that’s used and involved with it. People are very interested in that and they want to learn about it.”

With all the work that goes into putting on the show, Flowers said her favorite part of the event is seeing all the collective efforts come together to create an enjoyable event for all.

“Seeing how much fun the crowd has and how much fun the competitors have,” she said. “That’s really it, and what it can give back to the community is pretty awesome.”

A MAN AND HIS AXE

Competitor Kendal Cain has been coming to the log show since 2012. He competes in chainsaw racing, single and double buck, and axe throwing. He said his favorite event is the axe throw.

“It’s just you alone,” he said. “Everyone’s focusing on you and it’s just you and the target and your axe hanging in the spotlight.”

Having attended the event every year since 2012, Cain said he has enjoyed watching the event grow to what it is now.

“It seems like we’re getting more competitors out here,” he said. “This year, the crowd has been great. It’s a really big crowd.”

Cain grew up in the Deming area and logging sports are in his family blood. His father competed in shows for 30 years.

“Watching him, I finally just grew into it,” he said.

Cain’s beginnings in competition were at local shows in the area he grew up, but he now travels around to compete at various shows in the region. He said in the 1990s and 2000s, many of the competitors were employed in the industry, but things have changed as time has passed and the industry has shank in employment numbers.

“Probably every log show you go to there’s like five guys that are still in the timber industry,” he said.

These days, Cain said many of the competitors are like himself, in that they have grown up in families that were involved in the industry.

“Most of the people that are here competing are carrying on family tradition,” he said. “Their dad or grandpa has competed.”

Cain said one of the benefits to log shows is that they can help erase what he sees is sometimes a negative stigma involved with the timber industry. As most of the towns that host log shows were largely supported by the industry over time, he said the shows help serve as a reminder of that heritage.

“I think it’s very important to show the history of how some of these towns were started and what was the industry at the time,” he said. “I think after this year I see a great future for the High Country Log Show. It’s a great little town and really good competitors. Everyone’s having fun and it looks like the crowd’s having a good time too.”

Comments

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.