BY STEVEN FRIEDERICH
The Daily World
Professional logging competitor Mike Forrester took home his unprecedented 12th All-Around Logger title at the 46th annual Loggers Playday in Hoquiam Saturday night.
The evening competition followed by fireworks topped off a day of salmon bakes, pancake breakfasts and a grand parade.
Forrester has won the honor 12 times in the past 17 years -- 11 of those by himself and once as a shared trophy.
The High Point Local Logger honors went to local legend Lee Pickett of Amanda Park.
This year, Forrester made the popular logging and sports show a family affair, bringing his wife Sandra to compete in the Ma & Pa Bucking event and both of his kids, 19-year-old Gabe and 18-year-old Jake, both of whom also competed in various events.
Forrester, from Glide, Ore., has been competing for a couple of decades now.
"I keep thinking about retiring but I just can't bring myself to do it," he said.
For one thing, he says he's really enjoying competing head-to-head with both of his kids.
"I love coming to Hoquiam," he said. "This place has the best crowd -- and largest crowd -- for an evening show. You'd have to go to Canada to get a bigger show."
Forrester's rival for the All-Around Logger title, Oregon native Rob Waibel, sat out the show this year.
"Except for a couple shows, he's been sitting out this whole year," Forrester explained.
At this year's Loggers Playday, 31-year-old Brian Bartow was giving Forrester a run for the money.
Bartow, who lives near Portland, won the All Around Logger honor back in 2008 and has been competing at the Hoquiam even ever since.
Bartow's focus is on the climbing events, following in the footsteps of his dad, Steve, who also ended up competing on Saturday.
"I've been climbing trees since I was 6 years old," Bartow explained.
The race for High Point Local Logger came down to the wire between Josh Stoken of Hoquiam, who works at Ace Logging, and Pickett.
Both were competing in the Local Power Saw event. Pickett needed at least a second to win the top honors and managed to do just that. Derek Such of Hoquiam played spoiler and ended up beating both of them. Jim Palmer took third and Stoken took fourth.
Such, 30, said he's been trying his hand in as many events as possible. He also managed to place in Local Choker Setting, Tree Topping and Obstacle Pole Bucking.
"I do this for a living," said Such, who works for Double D Logging out of Hoquiam. "This isn't just an event to me. My practice is in the woods."
Another local logger took first place in a professional category. James Lev of South Bend teamed up with Branden Sirguy of Port Angeles to win the Double Hand Bucking event.
Lev had been active on the professional logging show circuit for years, but has taken the last couple of years off to spend more time with his family.
He and wife Shelley also competed in the Ma & Pa Bucking event.
"I love this show so much I just couldn't stay away," Lev said.
Also competing, but not placing this year, was Steve Rosier, who at 87 years old was the oldest competitor at the event.
The Coos Bay, Ore., native tried his hand at Axe Throwing. While the other competitors typically used two hands, Rosier used one hand because he could get a better grip.
"I started in these logging shows back in 1982, but I probably should have started much earlier in my life," he said. "I just never knew about 'em, I guess. I worked in the woods all my life. ... You've got to concentrate and not let your mind wander in order to score."
Winning the axe throw with a perfect 15 points (three bullseyes) was Oregon native Bryce Smith.
Organizers for the Loggers Playday parade say the last-minute changes to craft a new parade route were a wild success.
Parade floats lined up down the 5th Street Extension and used the grasslands around the Anderson & Middleton site as a staging area. Then the parade marched passed City Hall, turned at the Hoquiam Timberland Library and headed down K Street. The route had to be detoured from going through downtown Hoquiam because of the closure of the Simpson Avenue Bridge.
Parade organizer Bonnie Cable said she has no complaints about the changes and is seriously considering keeping the new route next year, even if the Simpson Avenue Bridge is fixed.
The only ones to pull out of the parade were the children at St. Mary's School, citing some safety concerns, Cable said. Everyone else stayed on as normal and the parade was even able to add a few last-minute entries, such as the Grays Harbor Bearcats football team. Altogether, there were more than 100 floats, log trucks, marching bands and political entries. The parade organizers also decided to only have one category for high school band entries, pitting Hoquiam vs. Aberdeen this year and had them judged by Exalted Elk rulers from outside the community. Cable said she hopes bands from other schools will participate next year. This year, Hoquiam took first.
U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi shook hands along the parade route. Earlier in the day, Rossi even tried his hand at axe throwing. His campaign made a brief video of the efforts -- http://youtu.be/YlD6npYJsWc.