Lumberjack challenge returns to Legends & Logging Days
Paul's Bunyans needed a tiebreaker hammerschlagen match against the Park Rapids Jaycees to win the tightly contested Lumberjack/Jill Challenge held Saturday during Legends & Logging Days.
The new event brought some competitive excitement to the annual event which celebrates the area's legendary logging history. When the sawdust settled it was Paul's Bunyans — made up of team members Kayla Stursa, Dan Pike, Nick Jasmer and Tom Juberian — who won the first place cash prize of $500.
Charlie Moorhouse, Rob Dwire, Matt Steckelberg and Laura Jaberian competed for the Jaycees.
Five teams competed in this first-year Lumberjack/Jill Challenge and offered some good competitive entertainment.
"The event went very well. The Lumberjack and Jill Challenge was a really fun addition this year," said Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber President Butch DeLaHunt. "We are working to expand to more interactive events that involve local residents and visitors. Our visitors appear very interested in having the opportunity to experience our local flavor of games."
The event consisted of three relay challenges. First, teams went head-to-head in a log "cookie" stacking, followed by two-person log sawing and the third event of a hammerschlagen where participants had to quickly hammer nails into a log.
Paul's Bunyans were strong in the cookie relay, which required team members to run back and forth stacking round log pieces. The Jaycees owned the log sawing, and the two finalists were even in the nail-pounding relay. Three of the four Paul's Bunyans teammates competed in the Nevis triathlon earlier in the day and demonstrated those skills in the log cookie relay, but not real strong in the log sawing.
"This was a lot of fun and we'll definitely do it again," Steckelberg said after the championship match. "It was good competition. I'm worn out."
The teams each won one event — Paul's the cookie relay and Jaycees the log sawing in the championship, setting up the Hammerschlagen to determine the winner. There was a photo finish at the line, too close to call, and organizer Butch DeLaHunt had them run again and Paul's Bunyans crossed the line first the second time.
Steckelberg might have thought his team finished first in the photo finish but his team was fine with running again to determine the champs.
"We put on a good show and it's about showmanship," he said, adding the sawing was definitely their strongest event. "We got some compliments from the other team saying we sawed pretty fast."
For the champs, there was added drama to the competition. Tom Juberian competed for Paul's Bunyans while his wife, Laura Juberian was picked out of the crowd as a late addition to the Jaycees for some fun family head-to-head competition for household bragging rights.
The Jaycees were short a Lumberjill and Laura was on the bleachers set to watch husband Tom compete when she volunteered to fill the opening.
"She was brought out of the bullpen. She was just a minor league logger," said Tom's teammate Nick Jasmer. "They needed a Jill and she (Laura) stepped up."
Paul's Bunyans struggled at times to saw the logs.
"The sawing evened us out with everybody else," Jasmer said.
"We're all runners, that's our strong point," Tom added. "It takes no skill to do the cookies. It was a blast."
Fresh off the monumental lumberjack challenge win, one team member wondered out loud if there was a traveling circuit for the event.
DeLaHunt and the Legends & Logging Days committee are looking ahead to next year's event with some more new ideas.
"I am very fortunate I have been working with great Chamber staff and tremendous volunteers," DeLaHunt said. "Having chaired the committee for many years, I am proud of what we can accomplish together. The committee will meet right away in the coming days to review the event and make modifications and add new events. Preliminary discussions include Cornhole Tournament, expansion of the Lumberjack and Jill Challenge. I am very excited to see where it takes us."