Bunyon Busters log out

Successful log rolling takes coordination and balance. Unsuccessful log rolling takes a love of the water.

At least that’s what some Island County kids found out Sunday when they tried to knock former world championship log roller Jenny Owen off her log.

Owen was in town for the annual Bunyon Busters Log Show at the Island County Fair to show the locals how to stay upright on a log spinning in a pool of water. Log show organizer Albert Gabelein said the kids competing against Owen, who were mainly in their early teens, tried everything they could, including hitting the log and pulling on Owen, but were unable to make her lose her balance.

The challenge was part of Owen’s and fellow log roller Gary Point’s exhibition on professional log rolling Sunday.

The real event, however, was the five-hour competition among Island County men, women and children in the traditional logging competitions of chopping, sawing, pole climbing and ax throwing.

There was some fun in the games, especially where family rivalries were present. In one of them, 17-year-old Lilly Fox defeated her father, tree trimmer Jim Fox, in a horizontal hand chopping exhibition.

Langley resident Don Campbell took the title of overall champion, as he did last year. Just behind him were Rheinhart Cate, Steven Gabelein and Albert Gabelein.

Like all other athletic competition, the competitors didn’t just show up: They needed time to practice. So to get ready, contestants spent last Wednesday through Saturday practicing the events at the fairgrounds. The preparation time gave some first-time competitors the chance to see what they would face.

Seven-year-old Hannah McConnaughey, a life-long fairgoer, has been watching the log show for years. She said this year she decided to try the pole climbing a try. After climbing up and down the pole once last Wednesday, though, McConnaughey seemed satisfied with her experience.

“I think I want to do it again, but I’m glad its once a year,” she said.

She wasn’t the only young competitor. Toby Rubner said his 5-year-old son, Hunter, wanted to try climbing the pole Wednesday because Hunter’s watched his father compete in log show for the last couple years.

“He likes being like his dad,” Toby said.

Neither Hunter Rubner nor McConnaughey were among the finalists Sunday.

Another new competitor this year was Jason Campbell, the 18-year-old son of Don Campbell.

“It’s fun,” Jason Campbell said of practicing for the competition Wednesday while between tossing axes and chopping logs.

He said since his dad has been in the competition for years, he’s been around the log show his whole life. The younger Campbell finished Sunday in first place in the only event in which he competed individually, the horizontal hand chop-competition ax division.

There was also a contest during the day between the “hot saws,” car-motor powered custom chainsaws applied to the biggest logs anyone could find.

In the hot saw exhibition, competitors competed with chainsaws that had vehicle motors built into them. Gabelein said the saws weighed up to 600 pounds and sometimes needed two people to run them.

He said the hot saw could cut through a log three seconds or less, while a regular saw would need 25 to 30 seconds to do the same job.

All of the competitors were from outside Island County.

Despite Sunday’s rain, Gabelin said the show did well.

“We had a good turnout and a good show,” he said.

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