PORT GAMBLE — In keeping with its summer tradition, Port Gamble will continue to host a myriad of interesting characters during the seasonal festivals — but this weekend will be special, with visitors stemming from the town’s past. Lumberjacks, replete with saws, axes and suspenders, will participate in the first annual lumberjack exhibition as a part of the Old Mill Days festival.
“I think the No. 1 thing we’re highlighting is the lumberjack show,” said event coordinator Johnathan Miller. “It’s the biggest new event that is based in the history of the old mill town. We are also adding a historical hay ride that should be interesting to people as well.”
The town was founded in 1853 by Andrew Pope and William Talbot and soon became a well-known mill town. In 1995, the mill was closed for good, but even so, it still holds the designation of being longest running business of its kind in North America. Miller said he was looking for a niche for the second annual Old Mill Days, and the lumberjack exhibition seemed perfect.
“The people coming to this event are primarily from western Washington,” said Branden Sirguy, who has been a competitive lumberjack for 10 years and is helping organize the event. “This first year, it’s not going to be a contest, it’s going to be an exhibition generating local interest for future contests.”
The lumberjack show will start at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and go for several hours while the participants demonstrate their prowess at various logging techniques like the underhand chop, hand bucking, tree topping and an obstacle course. It’s something that the mill town has been waiting for, said Port Gamble event coordinator Julie McAfee, but didn’t have the manpower to host.
Miller and Sirguy have provided the resources and time to get the event going, and McAfee said she’s hoping it will become a yearly draw for the town.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Sirguy said. “It’s the atmosphere these events originated in. How much more back to history can you get? It’s a depiction of the town’s history, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“The idea was always there,” Miller said. “They did it at the 150th town celebration, and I thought, ‘What a great idea,’ but they never put it together again. I’m excited that we are this year.”
In addition to the lumberjack show, Miller is also organizing the festival’s first car show, a pancake breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings, the regular carnival with more rides, several bands and a family day on Sunday. There will also be fireworks Friday and Saturday evenings,. As a result, pet owners living in the area should secure their animals between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. both nights.
“We’re going to have a paintball facility and a rock wall as something for the teenagers,” Miller said, noting last year there wasn’t as much for kids to do. “We’re also making the carnival bigger.”
For more information or a list of events, check out What’s Up or visit www.oldmilldays.com.