For more than 50 years, local and national loggers gather in North Fork, the exact geographical center of California, to honor their cultural heritage that shaped this once busy logging town. Professional and amateur competitions such as double hand bucking, ax throwing, choker setting and hot power sawing showcase the athleticism and help preserver the identity of the hard working men and women who pioneered the logging industry in California.
Small mills sprang up in the North Fork area in the latter half of the 1800s initially to support miners and later to provide for the various housing and building booms in the state. A large mill was built near town in the 1940s and the town began to prosper thanks to the many jobs associated with logging, including truckers, mill workers, loggers, National Forest personnel, and many businesses necessary to support the growing population. The mill eventually also included a co-generation plant that utilized scraps from the mill to produce electricity.
The Mid-Sierra Loggers Jamboree began in 1959 as a one day competition for local loggers. The Jamboree gradually grew into a major two day event, attracting professional loggers from around the state and nation, getting national attention on Charles Kuralt's CBS TV series "On the Road". Proceeds from the Jamboree have always gone into maintaining and improving the Recreation Center, which puts on programs for the youth during the summer.
Unfortunately, due to environmental concerns over logging, the mill shut down in 1993. As with most other logging towns in the Sierra Nevada, the economy suffered a tremendous blow. However, the Loggers Jamboree continued with nearly the same participation as it had in the heyday of logging with the same events and tremendous local support.
The annual Mid-Sierra Loggers Jamboree will be held in North Fork. The town is surrounded by beautiful peaks and forests. Scenic Bass Lake is nearby. From North Fork one can find easy access to many excellent outdoor experiences.
The events held during both days celebrate the hard working men and women who have been a part of the timber industry. Saturday's Pro-AM Event is for teams that feature one person who has
entered in a competition before as a professional teamed with one who has not. It's a more relaxed day, which includes other fun events such as a horseshoe throwing contest. The competition begins at 10:00am and concludes around 2:00pm.
Amateurs must not have participated as professionals previously. Professionals are those who have participated in Logging Jamborees previously. Entry fees depend on the number of events entered. Call Cathey Thornburg at 559-676-7766 for more information.
Later in Saturday afternoon the Loggers Jamboree Parade makes its way through town. It's followed by a barbecue and the Wood Choppers Ball where the Jamboree Queen is crowned.
On Sunday, the professionals take over. There will be hand chopping, hot power saw, tree felling, ladies stock power saw and one of the crowd's favorites, log birling (where the loggers try to stay upright while standing on a log in the swimming hole), in addition to several other events. Competition begins at noon and runs most of the afternoon.
Almost all of the weekend's events are held at the Recreation Center where the North Fork Boosters hold their free summer program for children. Seating is in a bowl shaped arena. There are several food and beverage booths along with local folks selling their crafts. Also on Sunday morning the Lions Club serves its annual pancake breakfast at the Town Hall.
Visit us on the web at northforkboosters.org