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Park Rapids gives nod to lumberjack heritage

2022 Legends and Logging Days festivities filled the fourth block of Main Avenue and neighboring green space.

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Professional lumberjacks from a Hayward, Wisconsin-based show demonstrate their logging prowess. Crosscut saws were highly prized in logging camps, capable of performing the work of four men with axes. In this contest, they try to be the first to cut a wooden disk, or "cookie."
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise
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The spirit of lumberjacks and lumberjills returned to downtown Park Rapids on Saturday.

2022 Legends and Logging Days festivities filled the fourth block of Main Ave. and neighboring green space.

More than 30 Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, members, staff and community members volunteered their time. “About 50% of those volunteers came from the FFA,” reported Mollie Albrecht, the chamber’s communications and marketing coordinator.

“Honestly, the event went really smoothly,” she continued. “There were a lot of kids and families there. Our prediction is that numbers were higher than last year.”

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Legends and Logging Days was set up on the fourth block of Main Avenue in Park Rapids.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

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Chopping, archery & more

With a hardy “yo-ho,” the award-winning Timberworks Lumberjack Show greeted audiences. It was a traditional expression of “welcome” at logging camps of the late 1800s.

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Nick Hastings, at right, flips fellow lumberjack Hunter Isaacson into the drink during the log rolling contest.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

The crowd was split into “rival logging camps,” hooting for their champion and booing the opponent.

Hunter Isaacson of Dells, Wisc. sparred with Nick Hastings of Charleston, North Carolina, while sharing logging trivia.

The half-hour show featured crosscut sawing, hatchet throwing, springboard chopping, hot saw, log rolling and underhand chopping.

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Smokey Hills Outdoor staff guided youngsters in an archery challenge.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Smokey Hills Outdoor Store staff instructed youth how to nock arrows and aim true at an archery challenge.

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Will Studer's family was on their way home to New Prague after staying at a local resort when they swung through Legends & Logging Days festivities, like the archery challenge.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Other popular attractions were the kids’ candy cannon, face painting, caricature drawings, live music by local talent and an Army National Guard climbing wall.

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Climbers of all ages tackled the Army National Guard's wall.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

New this year, the chamber held a first-ever smoked pork benefit dinner for Northwoods Wildlife Rescue.

Julie Dickie is one of two state-licensed wildlife rehabilitators in northern Minnesota. She owns Northwoods Wildlife Rescue, a nonprofit organization that captures and releases all manner of wounded creatures.

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Dickie said, "After expenses, it looks like we cleared about $6,000. Huge success!"

Northwoods Wildlife Rescue received another $1,000 in freewill donations at Sleeping Fawn Resort's outdoor concert.

"That will pay for food and we'll try to get a waterbird enclosure done this winter, along with getting the electric work done," she said.

Backyard BBQ Challenge

Nine teams entered the second annual Backyard BBQ Challenge, lead by grand pitmaster Leonard Hawkins and Steve Foster, president/CEO of Grandma Foster’s Bar-B-Que Sauce.

They are from Nebraska, but Foster has a summer home in the Park Rapids area.

Teams vied for prize money in three cooking classes: ribs, chicken and sides.

Hawkins explained the judging criteria. “For the two meats, chicken and ribs, they look for appearance, taste and tenderness. For the sides, it will be appearance, taste and creativity. There’s an award for each category, then there’s a grill master award, which is the highest cumulative score,” he said.

In addition, there were two table captain awards for the best ribs.

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“Falling off the bone, in some circles, is overcooked. This is a backyard contest, so we’re just trying to get people to see if it’s chewy. That’s what the judges will be instructed. If it’s a clean bite, then that’s going to be their definition of tender.”

Both Foster and Hawkins hope to see the challenge continue year after year.

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Butch De La Hunt and his "Smoke Signal" teammates participated in the second annual Backyard BBQ Challenge. Adding a little of this and a little of that, they spontaneously created their BBQ dishes.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

This was serious fun for the De La Hunt Broadcasting team, calling themselves “Smoked Signals.”

“We’re doing all categories in the ribs and chicken. We’re doing a Caribbean, jerk-style chicken,” explained Butch De La Hunt. His teammates were Jim Kanten and Andy Sollien.

When asked if using a secret, family recipe, De La Hunt shook his head. “I couldn’t repeat it twice,” he said, chuckling.

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Paul Bougie, at left, and Sheldon Emil from the Hawgy Bottom Boys team, prep ribs for the Backyard BBQ Challenge.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

This was Jim Miller’s second go at this BBQ contest. He has a place on Potato Lake. This year, he recruited his Fargo friends, Paul Bougie and Sheldon Emil.

“We started doing this tailgating at NDSU games. We’ve been doing that since about 1984, Miller said. “So I called these guys and said, ‘Why don’t you come over and have some fun.’ We just have a lot of fun doing this.”

Dubbed the Chicken Chockers & Hawgy Bottoms Boys, they busily prepared their ribs, cupcake chicken, venison sausages, street corn and pepper salad, along with Texas scotch eggs.

“Instead of an egg, there’s jalapenos,” explained Emil.

Miller said they were creating all-original concoctions.

Team names reflected the playful nature of the casual contest: The Ribbers, R2-BBQ, Rubbin’ Cluckin’ Chickens, and Smoke Addiction, to name a few. JD's BBQ, Smokin’ D BBQ and Sloppy BBQ Boys rounded out the challengers.

Grand master status went to Smoke Addiction, with Smokin’ D BBQ taking second and JD’s BBQ third.

Smoke Addiction also took first place in the chicken category, followed by Smokin’ D BBQ and Rubbin’ Cluckin’ Chickens.

First place in the ribs category was JD’s BBQ. R2-BBQ took second place and Smokin’ D BBQ third.

Rubbin’ Cluckin’ Chickens won the sides category. Second place went to Sloppy BBQ Boys, third to Smokin’ D BBQ.

Celebrity dunk tank

New this year, the Park Rapids FFA presented “Da-Dunk Tank.” Proceeds support the FFA before they head to nationals.

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Siblings, nieces, nephews and even grandma bombarded Brandon Gartner when it was his turn in the FFA's Da-Dunk tank. Garnter's niece, Lilly Smith, is shown here. According to the chamber, Gartner endured 40 dunkings.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Fourteen community VIPs gamely sat atop the water-filled tank while people took aim to sink them. Some of the targets were Katie Deschene of Revel Brewing, Dan Pike of Edward Jones and Derek Ricke, the chamber’s new president/CEO.

FFA “made a killing,” according to Albrecht. They raised a little over $1,800 between the dunk tank and freewill donations taken at Water Wars.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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