Photo by Thom Randall
Former World Champion lumberjack Jerry Gingras of Errol N.H. slams his axe into a block of wood during sanctioned timber-skills competitions held at the 2014 Stony Creek Mountain Days festival. Gingras is among world class athletes who are to be competing this Sunday at this year’s edition of Mountain Days, which is to be held Saturday Aug. 5 and Sunday Aug. 6. In addition to the five-hour lumberjack competition, Mountain Days features live bands, educational activities, historical encampments, entertainment, vendors and children’s games.
STONY CREEK — A small-town festival that harkens back to enduring North Country traditions is returning this weekend with its beloved lumberjack competition, talented musical entertainment and a wide array of family activities.
The small mountain town of Stony Creek is holding its annual Mountain Days Festival from Friday Aug. 5 through Sunday Aug. 7 with a lineup of attractions for all ages.
Headlining the rural festival is the timber-sports competition beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday — featuring world class lumberjacks putting their skills to the test.
Both men and women will be chopping timber and sawing wood with crosscut, chain and bow saws, as well as throwing axes at targets, and rolling logs. New this year is a frying pan tossing competition for women.
These sanctioned competitions, held by the New York State Lumberjacks Association, are an annual crowd favorite — featuring both local competitors and lumberjacks from around northeastern U.S. as well as from overseas.
In recent years, several of the lumberjacks or lumberjills competing at Mountain Days have been U.S. or international champions in their particular event, competition organizer Jake Bederian of Warrensburg said this week.
Among the competitors will be Jerry Gingras of Errol, N.H. who has held a world record in chainsawing timber as well as Peg Engasser of Cortland, former member of the U.S. National Lumberjack team, who placed fifth in women’s bucksaw in the 2014 Lumberjack World Championships and was the reigning world champion in women’s underhand wood chopping in the mid 2000s. Also competing will be Lawrence O’Toole, an axe competitor from Australia who has won several prestigious championships.
Expected to command the crowd’s attention for five or six full hours on Sunday, Mountain Days’ timber-sports showdown is likely to be the largest that the New York State Lumberjacks will be sanctioning this year.
Activities offered for all ages
Mountain Days begins at 7 p.m. Friday night with music and dancing to the music of the country-rock music of the Tim Wechgelaer Band. The group will be performing in the town park where most all the weekend’s events are to occur.
On Saturday beginning at 11 a.m., the Mountain Days fest shifts into high gear with its lineup of vendors, mountain music, educational expos and entertainment. Most all the events and activities continue on Sunday.
Saturday features “Wandmaster” Titus Grondahl, mentoring children in crafting their own magical wand.
On both Saturday and Sunday, local celebrity Lisa Bartow will be showing people of all ages how sheep’s wool is processed. Children will be able to card, wash, spin and dye wool, and take it home with them. Bartow’s Icelandic sheep may be accompanying her this year.
On both Saturday and Sunday, activities for children include various games, face painting and a bounce house as well as free snow cones and popcorn.
Musicians will be strolling the festival grounds both days. Among those sharing their talents will be Ernie Sites - the Singing Cowboy, as well as Travis Bartow and friends.
Through the weekend, naturalists from Warren County Soil & Water will be helping children find creatures in the creek nearby — Also, Dean Davis will be presenting his Living World Ecology show with a wide variety of live reptiles.
Returning to Mountain Days — but this year for two full days — is the festival’s popular free photo booth, which provides an opportunity for people to pose with family and friends for memorable offbeat photos, complete with offbeat props provided to enhance the fun. These instant “selfies,” branded with the Mountain Days logo, are to be taken home as souvenirs.
Mountain Days will also be featuring an encampment of Viking re-enactors, on site both days, giving the public a glimpse of customs from centuries ago, including cooking, crafts, weaponry, music, and blacksmithing.
Also to be occurring will be a Civil War encampment, only on Saturday, with re-enactors offering children’s games and historical information.
On both Saturday and Sunday, a lineup of vendors features a wooden bird carver, a sculptor of clay figurines, a quilter and a jewelry artisan — plus several new attractions including glass blowers from The Adirondack School of Northeastern New York demonstrating their artistry.
Also, representatives of the Thurman Connections Snowmobile Club will be on hand with their equipment, talking to festival-goers about their active group.
Operation Adopt-a-Soldier will also be represented, discussing their mission to bring cheer to service personnel stationed overseas, Mountain Days official Ronda Thomas said.
Saturday evening’s musical entertainment is headlined by the renowned Big Fez & the Surfmatics, a four-man group performing classic surf and beach music from the early 1960’s. Their performance begins at 7:30 p.m.
The family fun continues on Sunday with the addition of magician and balloon sculptor “Joey D” strolling on the festival grounds, crafting everything from inflated masks, hats and weird creatures.
Also on Sunday, a group of Civil War re-enactors — Friends of the Grant Cottage from Wilton — will have camps set up on site, sharing their age-old traditions with festival attendees.
Both days, a variety of food will be available, including pulled pork sandwiches cooked up by representatives of the Stony Creek Library and other community groups.
Community garage sale also slated
A town-wide garage sale is to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with locator maps guiding people to the sale sites. On Saturday, the sale features a scavenger hunt in which people collect letter to spell a secret word for a Chamber-sponsored drawing at 5 p.m.
In addition, the Stony Creek Library will be holding a book sale over the weekend.
Thomas said this week that Mountain Days festival continues to expand its lineup of activities as it has become a signature attraction in the southern Adirondacks.
“We’re offering a full weekend of family fun that embraces age-old Adirondack traditions, which run strong in Stony Creek,” she said. “But this year we’re also featuring wi-fi — and I really don’t know if that’s good or bad!”