18th annual Lumberjack Festival this weekend

July 27, 2018

By Pat Maurer

Since 2000, the Lumberjack Festival has been held on one special weekend (the last weekend) in July. From the beginning, the festival, headquartered at the Farwell Village Park, has been a big hit with Clare County residents and visitors to the area alike.

With so many festivals during the summer months around mid-Michigan, you might ask why this festival is so special.

Several Lumberjack Shows are planned during the Farwell Lumberjack Festival next weekend.

Several Lumberjack Shows are planned during the Farwell Lumberjack Festival next weekend.

Most summer festivals feature games and fun for the youngsters, crafts, competitions and entertainment for the adults and excitement for the whole family.

Farwell’s Lumberjack Festival, headquartered in the Farwell Village Park, has all of that, but this festival is a little bit different and is guaranteed to be an old-fashioned fun-filled weekend for young and old alike. And it is happening this weekend in this little Village in Clare County.

In fact, the whole community gets in on the fun. Most of the events are centered around the Farwell Village Park on Saturday and Sunday, but the weekend actually begins early with Friday evening’s annual Surrey Township Fire Department Spaghetti Supper fundraiser at the Fire Department beginning at 5 p.m. with a special Bake Sale.

Stop in, fill up, kick off the festival, and help raise money to help with the medical expenses for the family of Harley Crawford while you are at it.

If you are a history buff, the Farwell Museum will be open for the weekend activities as well featuring Artist Kim McGuire Kleinhardt.

The annual 5K Run and Half Marathon starts the festival off Saturday morning at the Little League Field with registration from 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. and start of the run at 8 a.m.

At 9 a.m. both days the Concession Stand opens and the Craft Show begins in the Village Park.

On Saturday and Sunday, Farwell’s Lumberjack Festival features some truly unique and unusual competitions.

For example, have you ever seen a ‘greased pig contest’? How about a “Chicken Chuckin’ Contest,” or old fashioned log rolling?

Maybe not if you come from a big city. Around Clare County though, loads of people have had a chance to see just what it is all about.

To remind us all of Michigan’s famous “logging era,” the festival centers around the old fashioned fun of those bygone times when Michigan lumberjacks and their families got together to showcase their skills.

For some of that old-fashioned fun, there will be several Lumberjack Shows on both Saturday and Sunday featuring axe throwing, chainsaw cutting competitions and of course log rolling! Shows are scheduled on Saturday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. Sunday shows are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

If you like chainsaw carving, that competition runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and a Stock Chain Saw Cutting Contest at 1:30 p.m. with a Quick Carve Competition at 3:30 p.m. and a Live Auction of carvings at 4:30 p.m. On Sunday the Chainsaw Carving Competition runs from 10 a.m. to noon and the Quick Carve Competition begins at 1 p.m. Then the Carvers Auction begins at 2:30 p.m.

Entertainment in the pavilion at this year’s festival on Saturday will include the Harper Family from 12:30 to 2 p.m.; and Steven D and the Keys from 3 to 5 p.m. On Sunday it is the Red Hat Strutters from 11 a.m. to noon; and more live entertainment from 1 to 3 p.m.

There’s no shortage of contests and fun for the adults. This year’s festival brings back the Fenders & Flags Car Show on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the Rib Eating Contest (sponsored by the Texas Roadhouse) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday; and the popular Sunday Chili Cook-off from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (which is still open and looking for more contestants). Registration is from 10 to 11 p.m.

Along with “Chicken Chuckin’,” there will be a “skillet toss, horseshoe tournaments, a Pie-Eating Contest, and even a “how low can you go” Limbo contest.
The Horseshoe Tournament will be on Saturday at 11 a.m. for singles and doubles.

Chicken Chuckin’ is Saturday at 4 p.m. for women only. The Limbo Competition is on Sunday at 10 a.m. and the Skillet Toss for both men and women is at noon on Sunday.

Add to that the Pie Eating Contest Sunday at 2 p.m. for a “face full” of fun!

Kids will be joining in on the fun with their own “Bubble Gum Blowing Contest” Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and the Sawdust Treasure Hunt at 3:30 p.m. And they can participate in the Limbo Contest, Pie eating contest and of course the famous Greased Pig Contest.

One of the most popular events at Farwell’s Labor Day Festival is the greased pig contest. Each year youngsters ages 3-16 line up for chance to try and tackle a very slippery pig on the loose. This year’s event will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

A greased pig contest is an old fashioned event that has provided entertainment at county fairs and festivals around the country for well over 100 years.

Sometimes contestants aren’t so lucky at catching a pig. The event involves taking a healthy young live pig, coating him (or her) with a layer of very slippery cooking oil, and then having a contest to see who can chase down and catch the pig when it is let loose in an open corral.

Everyone seems to enjoy it, including the pig. And more than just being entertainment, these events can be pretty educational.

Catching a greased pig isn’t easy. For example, at a greased pig contest, you learn that it takes more than being young, fast, and full of energy to catch and hold an excited little pig that doesn’t really want to be caught or held.

Contestants learn pretty quickly that the pig is much faster, has more energy, and with the added feature of grease (cooking oil), has very little to hold on to.

At many of these events, the macho young participants spend most of their energy chasing the little squealer all over the arena, while the crowd laughs. This goes on until the would-be ‘pig catchers’ run out of energy and give up.

And then, when there is no one left to chase the pig, its owner will come out with a bucket of food and the pig will run right over, waiting to be fed (and captured).
It is at this point that most people learn a lesson about catching greased pigs, which, according to an internet article is, “The easiest way to catch a greased pig is to give him a good reason to come to you.”

Youngsters will love the events at the festival. There will also be Pony Rides and Barrel Train Rides on both days, and Kids Carnival games Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The annual Lumberjack Raffle will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. followed by the last Lumberjack Show.

Co-Chairs for this year’s festival are Eunice Andreas and Billie Keith (advertising, chainsaw carving competition); Janice Jenkins and Marijean Sikkema (concessions and craft show coordinators; Gina Hamilton (contest and event coordinator, park set-up and maintenance); and Janet Haag (office administrator, raffles and silent auction).

For more information you can visit the website at www.farwellareachamber.com. Or call 989-588-0580.

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