This year’s Timber Days event was a vibrant community event dedicated to preserving logging culture.
Although there are dozens of men and women who work hard each year to put on this event by the Revelstoke Forest Workers’ Society, it’s certainly not a large, flashy festival. But it is a genuine expression of loyalty to the way things used to be here. It’s also a clear demonstration of the power of volunteerism in Revelstoke.
Take Wendy Larson. Born and bred in these mountains she remembers how it used to be many years ago. Towns like Meadowcreek, Kaslo, Slocan and others also celebrated logging culture with logging sports and other good times. But the popularity of these events was solely eroded as mills closed, forestry companies declined and people who depended on our forests gradually died off.
“Revelstoke is probably one of the last towns to keep Timber Days going,” Wendy said as she worked at this year’s event.
Anyone who has attended Timber Days for a decade or more can see how it has changed here, too.
Until a few years ago, Timber Days really ran for more than just one day. It also was on the logging sports circuit with competitors from the USA, New Zealand, the US and Australia contending for cash prizes. However, dropping attendance the decline in international contestants and a drastic reduction in the size of the cash prizes offer, shrunk the event to just one day of the year where it remains a valuable way to entertain the family during the summer.
“You know, money is tight for our young families and this is something they can come out and enjoy with their whole families.”
But there’d little doubt that although there are enough volunteers to — for now — keep it going, it needs an infusion of dedication from younger people,
Nadine Overwater, president of the Revelstoke Forest Workers’ Society, attended her first Timber Days back in 2009 when she moved here from Alberta and has volunteered at every once since then.
“It’s authentic,” the silviculturalist with Downie Timber said in a brief interview on Saturday afternoon, adding that her entire family is hooked on Timber Days. But, like Wendy she understands that Timber Days needs some help from younger people who value this cultural event.
There are probably some simple fixes that could improve attendance. The traditional July dates are problematic because of the heat. Moving Timber Days to September when it is cooler could, all by itself, ensure larger attendance figures. Perhaps the reintroduction of events like pole climbing or more kids’ events could also bring out more people.
But that’s easy for me to say. And I should really leave it up to the people who make decisions about Timber Days. People like Wendy, Nadine, Angus Woodman, Brian Sumner and Cindy Pearce. They’re excellent proponents of logging culture and the work they do is applauded by all those people value our community and our heritage.
In the meantime, I am pleased to present a selection of photos from the 2013 Timber Days: