Tournament tailored for timbermen

It’s a full time job for them – there won’t be any audience members going toe-to-toe against the lumberjacks

From two planks up on a log

The West Coast Lumberjack Show will be chopping large chunks out of this year’s entertainment at Peachfest.

During four out of Peachfest’s five day run, five burly lumberjacks will be testing their strength against one another with logs and axes. And it’s a full time job for them – there won’t be any audience members going toe-to-toe against the lumberjacks.

“Practicing and keeping our skills honed is important – you can’t just grab an axe from Canadian Tire and jump on stage,” owner and lumberjack Darren Dean said.

“I’m the guy everyone picks on because I’m the boss.”

He said each day, the lumberjacks will be split into teams which are identifiable by the colour of their plaid, and their sense of competion is ever-increasing.

“We love feeding against each other, getting the rivalry going. But we don’t always keep track of who wins and who loses, we do it for fun more than anything.”

But the heat doesn’t get uncanned, as the show is mostly geared for families, Dean said.

“It tends to appeal to just about everyone.”

Dean says the Springboard Chop is also a fan favourite, which is an old logging practice that became outdated with the advent of new technology. It sees lumberjacks’ chop a slot into a log which a springboard has to get leveraged into. From there, competitors stand atop the springboard, chop a new slot and do it again. Once they’re two springboards high (about three metres off the ground), the lumberjacks then have to chop the top of the vertical log off.

“It’s a basic reenactment of what lumberjacks would have been doing late in the 1800’s, early 1900s.”

He said another event that crowds love is the tree climbing, where lumberjacks race by climbing a 40-foot tree to the top and back down.

Dean said master of ceremonies Lauren Tulk, the only female involved in the Peachfest event, has a silver tongue that keeps the audience’s attention fully focused on the tests of brute strength.

The team has been under Dean’s direction since he took over in 2008, though the West Coast Lumberjack Show was originally founded in 1982.

“It’s the type of show that seems timeless,” he said. “People want to keep seeing the show – nobody seem to tire of it.”

Dean said Penticton audiences always offer positive reception, and Peachfest will be their first performance in the community in four years.

“It’s always a fun event – and it’s great being set up right by the lake.”

You can catch the show any of the first four days of the festival. On Aug. 5, they take the stage at 5:15 p.m.; 12:50 p.m. on Aug. 6; 4:10 p.m. on Aug 7., and their final Peachfest performance will be at 12:05 p.m. on Aug. 8. Each show is scheduled for 30 minutes, though Dean says they can go for about 45 minutes.


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