Arts and Entertainment

Old Mill Days | Kitsap Week

Mettle meets muscle in the Old Mill Days wood-carving competitions. Old Mill Days starts Sept. 28. - File photo
Mettle meets muscle in the Old Mill Days wood-carving competitions. Old Mill Days starts Sept. 28.
— image credit: File photo

PORT GAMBLE — OK, a few things you need to know before you go to the seventh annual Old Mill Days, Sept. 28-30.

First, that burly guy or gal sculpting a piece of wood with a chainsaw? He or she’s an artist, not a lumberjack.

Second, one carver may cause you to do a double-take. That’s Steve Backus of Whidbey Island, the “roadside carver” in the TV commercial for Pemco Insurance’s campaign, “We’re A Lot Like You, A Little Different.” He’s also been featured on the new reality show, “Saw Dogs,” which airs on the Discovery Channel.

Third, there are some new features at this year’s Old Mill Days, some related to the industry, some not: A zip line (take the kids, not your chainsaw); and camel rides (because camel and chainsaw begin with “c”?). Traditional favorites, like log rolling, return.

The weekend also features a carnival, a classic car show, forested trail hikes and live music.

“We want to put on a dynamic event so people go home and say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that,” promoter Johnathan Miller said.

Old Mill Days has a lot of “wow” factor every year, whether it’s the lumberjack show or toughest timberman contest.

This year’s event features the Northwest Chainsaw Carving Competition Invitational. The top 10 chainsaw carvers in the world will compete for cash and prizes. The event features 25 guest carvers and includes four 300-pound ice sculpture carvings every day.

“It’s art in motion,” Miller said. “These carvers are performing artists.”

Indeed. Consider Conrad Sandoval of Brandon, Ore. He holds the world record for the highest valued art piece carved in 1 hour 15 minutes: $2,025. According to an online biography, the former logger and carpenter began sculpting wood with a chainsaw professionally so he had the freedom to travel and minister to people, especially the homeless. His wife, Justine, and son, Steven, also carve professionally and work to help children get out of human trafficking.

Sandoval specializes in bears and eagles, but one carving that is especially meaningful to him is “The Last Supper,” which he donated for an auction benefiting St. Joseph’s School in Crescent City, Calif. Sandoval sculpted “The Last Supper” in 22 hours “out of one piece of old-growth redwood that may well have been here when the Last Supper actually took place,” an online biography states.

The industry that made Port GambleOld Mill Days celebrates the industry that put Port Gamble on the map. Timber was king here for 150 years, and lumber milled here helped build homes and cities throughout the Pacific Rim.

“When we did our 150th anniversary in 1999, before we were doing festivals in town, we did a logging show,” Port Gamble general manager Shana Smith said. “We had the climbing poles, log rolling. It fit well then, and it still does now.”

Old Mill Days begins Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. with Competition Speed Carving, Ice Sculpture Carvings, and Rock the Mill, music performances by four live bands.

On Sept. 29, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the day’s events include the Lumberjack Show, Chainsaw Champion Race, Competition Speed Carving, Ice Sculpture Carvings, Chainsaw Carving Auction, the sixth annual Classic Car Show, and the Kitsap Forest Festival.

On Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the day’s events include the Kitsap’s Toughest Timberman, in which competitors vie for prizes and the Strongman Title; the Hot Saws Unlimited, Ice Sculpture Carvings, Competition Speed Carving, Chainsaw Carving Auction and Chainsaw Champion Race Finals.

The Lumberjack Show is becoming a leading timber sports event in the Northwest. Contestants from throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia compete in the axe throw, singlebuck, springboard chop, and hot saw. Speed climbing and tree topping competitions will take place at the spar poles near the lumberjack stage.

The Toughest Timberman Contest attracts some of the strongest lumberjacks in the area. Competitions include axe throw, log toss, log round load toss, log carry obstacle course, single man crosscut, and skidder tire flip.

During the Kitsap Forest Festival, Pope Resources and Olympic Resource Management will present nature and wildlife exhibits, interactive displays and a hike of local forest trails — a unique opportunity right now, because Pope has temporarily closed its North Kitsap and Jefferson County trails because of fire risk.

Tickets and admissionTickets to Old Mill Days are $8 adult, $5 youth, 5 and younger get in free. On Sunday, tickets are 50 percent off for active military, reservists, dependents and retired (ID required), and seniors 63 and older.

Free admissions: Carnival, all three days; Car Show, Saturday.

Parking is free, with free shuttle service between the parking area and the festival entrance.


SEPT. 28
3-4 p.m.: Pro-chainsaw quick carve
3-7 p.m.: Pro carving competition
3-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts
3-7 p.m.: Camel rides
3-7 p.m.: Zip line rides
3-9 p.m.: Carnival rides and midway
4-8 p.m.: Rock The Mill (live music)
5-6 p.m.: Ice sculpture carvings
6-7 p.m.: Chainsaw carvers auction

SEPT. 29
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.: Classic Car Show
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.: Forest Festival exhibits
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: Arts and crafts
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: Pro-chainsaw quick carve
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: Camel rides
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: Zip line rides
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: Kitsap Forest and Bay Project
10 a.m. - 10 p.m.: Carnival rides and midway
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.: Head to head speed carving
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.: Main Stage entertainment
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.: Lumberjack competition
1-4 p.m.: Ice sculpture carvings
5-6 p.m.: Chainsaw carvers auction
6-7 p.m.: Pro-ice sculpture carvings
5-8 p.m.: Soul Siren (headliner)

SEPT. 30
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.: Arts and crafts
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.: Camel rides
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.: Zip line rides
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: Carnival rides and midway 
10-11 a.m.: Pro-chainsaw quick carving
11 a.m. - noon: Kick boxing
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Head to head speed carving
Noon - 1 p.m.: Ice sculpture carvings
Noon - 3 p.m.: Toughest Timberman contest
Noon - 5 p.m.: Main Stage entertainment
1-5 p.m.: Hot Saws Unlimited Class
2-4 p.m.: The Mill Battle (dance off)
3-4 p.m.: Ice sculpture carvings
4-5 p.m.: Chainsaw carvers auction
5 p.m.: Pro carve award ceremony


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