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Forest festival brings woodsmen to UAF

The rich history of forestry and logging will be recognized Saturday, Oct. 5 when the University of Alaska Fairbanks hosts the 16th annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival.

Competitors will use lumberjack skills that were necessary in the forest in days gone by and some that are still useful today. There is no entry fee and any adults are welcome to compete. It's not necessary to be Paul Bunyan, just bring a sense of fun and a little bit of athleticism.

The Forest Fest begins at 10 a.m. at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm fields (across from the Georgeson Botanical Garden). At 1 p.m., the games move to Ballaine Lake. A warming fire and hot drinks will be available at the lake.

Morning events include log rolling, bow saw and crosscut sawing, ax throwing. In the afternoon, campfire building and birling (staying upright on a log floating in the lake) will be the focus.

People can compete as individuals or teams of four to six. At the end of the day, the "Bull of the Woods" and the "Belle of the Woods" will be announced. Participants are advised to dress warmly and to bring a towel and change of clothes if competing in the birling contest.

Faculty members and students in the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences forest sciences department developed the competition as a way to commemorate old-fashioned forest festivals. High-technology tools are the norm for today's forest professions and the festival pays tribute to a time when traditional woods activities were the basis for work and play and even survival.

Contact professor John Yarie for more information, jayarie@alaska.edu, 907-474-5650.

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