Key Peninsula Logging Show and Festival a roaring community success


Karen Lovett, KP News

Makenzie Gleffe celebrates her 16th birthday completing the choker obstacle course at the 29th annual Key Peninsula Logging Show and Festival. Gleffe was the only deaf participant this year. Courtesy photo by David Musser

At 10 a.m. the flag went up in a ceremony provided by Key Peninsula Veterans and music from the Key Singers launched the annual Key Peninsula Logging Show and Festival at the new Gateway Park location.

Appetizing aromas drifted from the grill as festival goers wandered among booths sponsored by local organizations or businesses displaying everything from jewelry, hand-carved pens and hand lotions to antiques. A silent auction in the Key Peninsula Community Services booth offered an array of services from kickboxing and fly fishing lessons to oil changes, artwork and other goods.

Sounds of the bulldozer leveling dirt and the excavator setting logs accompanied Dr. Roes’ Down Home Band as they livened the atmosphere with a series of rousing marching songs. Antique cars rolled in at intervals and formed a line between the booths and logging area, providing onlookers a chance to view the vintage autos. Across the field old steam engines added to the audible mix of the popular community event.

The logging show was a bit late getting started. Excitement built as axes bit into wood. Saw buckers followed, single handsaws crosscutting logs. Seats were filled and onlookers stood or sat on the grass –– all eyes on the loggers.

The shrill wail of the old steam engine whistle punctuated the sound waves announcing changing events. Wood-biting echoes of axes changed to buzzing chainsaws disgorging sawdust.

Onlookers covered their ears as the deafening roar of unmuffled car engines hoisted by two-person crews sliced through large logs in two seconds.

Between events, truckloads of crushed rock, dirt or split firewood were auctioned off to the highest bidders. Proceeds from the donated materials were all going for a good cause, KP Senior Center and Food Bank.

“The biggest challenge to get the logging show off the ground was the permit process,” Key Peninsula Community Services assistant Susie Donahue said.

“Key Pen Parks Department has been fabulous. They gave us signs and Scott Gallacher helped with the permit process. I want to give special thanks to the Henningson family: Jason, Kerri and Jordan. I had a blast doing this for a long 10 months, but it’s been so worth it. It benefits the Food Bank and Senior Center,” Donahue said.

Kerri Henningson has been coming to the event for 16 years. She started working on this year’s event about two months ahead of time and began procuring prizes about two weeks prior.

“There are lots of loggers,” Henningson said. “Some participate in a few of the events. Others compete in all. It costs $5 to enter. The fee hasn’t changed over the years. The one-time cost covers any and all contests. We love the new location. We come from Belfair,” she said.

Kerri’s brother Jason Henningson was the main announcer and brother Jordan co-announcer. Father Walt and Jordan work for Manke. Jason owns his own company, JH Trucking, and bought logs for the show. The chopping logs and bucking log were donated by Bob Codal of C&S Forestry and Management in Burlington.

“Things are going great at the new location,” said Brett Higgins, KP Food Bank manager. “It’s bigger and there’s room to organize. The park department set up the tent for the beer garden. Loggers came from all over and camped out last night,” he said.

Logger Bill Pelham was there. He grew up in the logging industry in Demming, WA. He was invited to come to Old Timers Day about 13 years ago by Dale Boquist and has been coming to the event ever since.

“We do shows all over the country,” Pelham said. “I like the new location. Like the sawing events. Like it all.”

“This is where logging gets fun,” Jason Rygaard of Rygaard Logging of Port Angeles said. Rygaard came down with sons, eleven-year-old Hank and nine-year-old Peyton. Jason’s brother, Gabe, who brought his son, nine-year-old Tucker was competing in the log chop. All the boys have been coming since they were babies. The boys can use a wood splitter and an ax, but are still too young to use a chain saw.

Two men from the television show Ax Men were filming for the History Channel to capture the sounds and sights of excitement of the day to be televised at some undisclosed future date.

“It’s exciting to get up a new location,” said Penny Gazabat, KP Community Services executive director. “For the last 29 years we’ve really enjoyed doing this for the community”