55th annual Loggers Playday promises fun for all

The 55th annual Loggers Playday is coming to Hoquiam on Saturday, with all the traditional elements plus a few new(ish) ones.

By Kat Bryant

Grays Harbor News Group

The 55th annual Loggers Playday is coming to Hoquiam on Saturday, with all the traditional elements plus a few new(ish) ones.

“Hopefully the weather will hold out and it’ll be a wonderful day,” said Playday Committee Chairman Tom Elledge.

The Rotary Pancake Breakfast will start the day off with some serious carbs at 6 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Help Church. The Frank Drolz Truck Driving & Binder Throw competition begins at 8 a.m on Eighth Street, and the Jack Reynvaan Memorial Run starts at 9 at Hoquiam High School.

At noon, the Hoquiam Elks Grand Parade will wind its way through downtown Hoquiam. This year’s grand marshal is Bill Quigg, retired president and CEO of Grays Harbor Paper. The vendor fair will be set up downtown during and after the parade.

The Lions Club Salmon Bake runs from 2 to 7 p.m. at Washington Elementary School — easy walking distance from Olympic Stadium, where the main event begins at 6.

The logging show is bringing back an old staple this year: Brian Bartow and a partner will stage their “tree act” for the first time in a few years.

“He climbs the spar pole, and he’s microphoned up,” said Jared Todd, this year’s Bull of the Woods. “They do a little routine with the ‘spurned wife,’ and then he pretends to get shot out of the tree — and it looks like he’s gonna plummet, but he zip-lines out.”

Another new element this year has to do with the relay race. The power saw portion of that event is getting a fresh twist, according to Todd: Instead of simply slicing a log, participants will have to do some limbing.

“A log will be laid down horizontally with dowels stuck out to simulate limbs, so they’ll have to go through and turn the saw and twist to cut all the limbs off,” he said. “It’s what the loggers deal with in real life in the woods, so it’s applicable and just a little bit different.” He added that if the change goes over well with the competitors, the committee might integrate a new limbing event into next year’s Playday.

The relay also will include the ax throw, obstacle pole and choker run, as usual — but with a little added incentive.

“We had a little extra prize money, so we’re paying the winning team $200 and the losing teams $100,” said Todd. “Everybody gets something for participating, and it’s usually something we only offer to the locals.”

Ed “Mooch” Smith of Eatonville is set to put on his annual tree topping exhibition, though at press time no one could say what he’ll be aiming for. Last year, he missed a tiny seedless watermelon by just a hair. In 2017, he smashed an old Volkswagen Beetle that had been painted like a watermelon.

Norm Callaghan of Gordon’s Service in Hoquiam generally donates Mooch’s target each year. “We won’t know what it is until the day of the show,” said Elledge.

“It may be a pumpkin, it may be a zucchini … it depends on how creative he gets with the paint scheme,” laughed Todd.

Professional log rollers Jim Dodge and Jenny Owens are expected to put on their annual exhibition, and members of the Playday Court might also try out the sport. But sadly, the mayors of Hoquiam and Aberdeen will not engage in a rematch on the pond. (Last year, Aberdeen’s Erik Larson toppled Hoquiam’s Jasmine Dickhoff.)

AJ Mackenzie will be clowning around for his second year — ably filling the very large shoes of his father, Paul, who entertained audiences at every previous Playday until his death in 2017.

This year’s dedication is Hoki Moir, Playday Committee member and board president of the Hoquiam School District. His grandfather, “Brick” Moir, competed in the first Loggers Playday in 1965; and his father, Marty Moir, served for many years on the committee (including as chairman in 1979).

Don Bell and John Henson are returning as emcees, and of course all of the regular logging competitions will be staged: ax throw, log chopping, Ma & Pa and double bucking, speed climb, power saw, hot saw, springboard chop and obstacle pole.

Topping off the show will be the annual fireworks display. “We’ll shoot for having those just before 9,” said Todd.

Afterward, the Hoquiam Elks Club will host the annual dance with live music by Ready or Not. A Playday button is required for admission.