Forest Festival makes the cut in Port Gamble

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

PORT GAMBLE — Families, residents and visitors were getting into the swing of things while watching logging demonstrations of all kinds in Port Gamble Sunday. The axes and red suspenders, once commonplace in town, were again revived to illustrate all the North End forested areas have to offer.

The first annual Forest Festival was largely a success, pegging a niche for itself, said Hood Canal Tree Farm area manager Patrick Raymond. Roughly 400 to 500 people showed up to see various demonstrations and booths, kicking the day off with a Loggers Breakfast.

“We saw an ad in the paper, and we live in Kingston,” said Kingston resident Anne Fair of her reason for coming to the festival.

“Besides, I saw the Logger’s Breakfast, and I thought, ‘One morning when she doesn’t have to make me breakfast,’” added her husband, Chuck Fair, with a laugh.

The festival was carved out of a long running celebration in Britain, the Chopwell Festival, which works to draw the public back to nature and forests of the region. Raymond, who traveled to England, was impressed with the magnitude of the Chopwell Festival, and felt a similar event would do well in Port Gamble.

“It worked pretty well for the most part,” he said. “For the first year, we had a good turnout... We got a lot of good comments on it, and people seemed to really enjoy themselves.”

Attendees had many activities to choose from with logging demonstrations, chainsaw carving, family events and informational booths spread throughout the historical mill town. There were also different tours including a beach walk with Bill Couch and interpretive trail stroll with Suquamish Tribal member Marilyn Wandrey and local tree expert Jim Trainer. Anne Fair said there were plenty of activities to keep everyone busy, especially children at the event.

“I hope they have this every year,” she said. “It’s very educational and fun for the kids.”

The Olympic and Buckhorn Range chapters of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington had a booth in the vendors’ area and provided a demonstration of pack horsemanship, said chapters vice president Gerry Magnuson. He and other Backcountry Horsemen members had been answering questions all morning, and many residents were interested in what the group offers to horseback riders.

“Seems like quite a few people have been coming through here,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of general interest,” added Buckhorn Range member Kris Lenke. “One gentleman came by and was telling us about when he was a ranger... The only way they were able to get supplies up to where he was was by horse.”

Raymond deemed the day a success, and said only a few minor things would be changed for next year’s festival. He said the event will likely remain a single day until it has gathered a following, but next year should be bigger as residents tell their friends about it.

“We really fulfilled the goal of the festival,” he said. “We’re hoping to open residents up to the aspects of the local forest.”

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