Deming Logging Show a family affair

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 12, 2014 

Deming Logging Show

Scenes from the annual Deming Logging Show on June 13, 2009. The show features a variety of special games such as tree climbing, pole falling and log rolling.

KATIE BARNES — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Shannon Chilcote says she has been involved in the Deming Logging Show, now in its 51st year, since she was born and has missed only one logging show weekend in her life.

"That was because we were living in a logging camp up in Alaska when I was young," she says.

Her dedication to the logging show runs in her family.

"In 1963, I had three generations of family at the first show," she says.

"I wasn't even born until 1972. My great-grandpa, Henry Zender, was Bull of the Woods in 1967. I had two great- uncles, Joe Zender and Don Hamilton, who were also Bulls. My dad, Bob Larsen, has been president four years."

And on logging show weekend?

She and her younger sister, Lindy Jewell, are grandstand secretaries, and their dad is the grandstand announcer.

"We make sure that everything is running smoothly for him," she says. "We gather information on events, sponsors, donations, winners, and so on, and make sure that they all get announced."

(And by the way, she says the organizers call it both the log show and the logging show).

"I'm always surprised when I run into someone in Whatcom County who hasn't been to our show," Chilcote says.

"I promise them they'll enjoy it. The show is roughly four hours of good, clean fun each day. It's local loggers competing in events showcasing modern and old-school logging practices.

"I've been to 40 log show weekends in my life and I still get a thrill out of every one. We used to travel with my dad to other chainsaw competitions, and nothing ever came close to Deming."

Chilcote says the show is truly a family-friendly affair.

"We pride ourselves in making sure our show caters to families. We try to keep it as affordable as possible because we want parents to feel like they can bring their kids and not break the bank," she says. "We have a few kids' events because they are our future. My favorite is watching the little kids climb the spar tree. We've had kids start out in our tree and become world-class climbers."

Some of the crowd's favorites are hot saws (cutting a "cookie" with a customized chain saw), and the two fastest men in the world up and down the 90-foot spar trees. Spar trees are the highest anchor-point on which rigging is hung for the hauling of logs.

One of the competitors, Steve Bartow, has been doing the "top of the spar tree act" since 1978. He's retiring this year.

"He's highly respected by everyone involved with our show and anyone else in the world who has seen what he pulls off on the top of a 90-foot spar tree," Chilcote says. "I'm having a hard time imaging future shows without him.

"I'm guessing nobody will ever replace him. I don't think anyone is crazy enough."

The purpose of the show is to benefit Whatcom County loggers injured in the woods, and their families.

"I've watched this organization give families a chance to keep food on their table and a roof over their heads after an injury or death," she says.

"The show has taught people in our community how to reach out to others in need. It's not uncommon for there to be arguments on logging jobs, but when tragedy strikes our industry, all differences are set aside and everyone pulls together. I've seen people put together benefit dinners that pay off medical bills and cover living expenses so injured men can concentrate on recovery.

"During our show, you can see some serious competition. The contestants are driven by not only a respect for the industry, but the fact that some of them have been recipients of disability checks. Most of them have witnessed injuries on jobs. All of them are thankful to make it home at the end of the workday."

And she adds, nobody should leave without experiencing the barbecue.

COMING UP

Woods Tour

When: 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday, June 13 (lunch provided).

Where: Deming Logging Show Grounds, 3295 Cedarville Road.

What: Walk in the woods to see how modern logging and forestry operations are run.

Reservations: Cyndra Neufeld, 360-592-5300, neufelds@comcast.net. Proceeds support Women for Logging group in Whatcom County.

Deming Logging Show

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15. The RV gate opens at 6 a.m.; other gates open at 8. The shows begin at 1 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $7; seniors and children 6 to 12 $4; free for kids 5 and younger.

Details: 360-599-2408, demingloggingshow.com.

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