Logging show contestants test their skills with the handsaw. The competition is a unique feature of the festival. Photos by Susan Cort Johnson

Annual Paul Bunyan Festival opens Saturday

The Paul Bunyan Mountain and Blues Festival sponsored by the Westwood Area Chamber of Commerce has a wide array of activities making it a good choice for families looking for entertainment over the Fourth of July four-day weekend.

The one-day event scheduled for Saturday, July 1, has a multitude of activities free with the price of admission including a blues venue, crafts/collectables fair, logging show and kid’s logging competition. All activities take place at Westwood Park located on south Greenwood Street. The festival is now in its 29th year. The most unusual aspect of the festival is the logging show in which contestants compete in lumberjack skills using axes and saws.

“Our festival is unique because it incorporates logging (which built Westwood) for a great day of entertainment and competition. It’s really an inexpensive way to spend a full summer day. The gate fee is only $5 and includes live music and a logging show,” said Lana Beal, the president of the Westwood Chamber.

For an additional cost, children can cool off on an inflatable water slide or dunk tank in the carnival area. In addition, they can play on other inflatable toys such as a bounce house. Individual tickets or all-day passes are available. Fun carnival food is also sold at this venue, such as cotton candy and kettle corn.

The children’s carnival features inflatable toys on which children play, such as a water slide and bounce house.

Also, children will have an opportunity to compete in Paul Bunyan activities designed for youth, such as nail driving and log rolling during the Junior Logging Show. This activity is free. Logging show organizers, Jack Medici and Tommy Salem, expect 25 to 35 competitors to compete in the ax throw and chopping as well as the handsaw and chain saw competitions. Some of the events feature old logging methods, while others are techniques used by modern lumberjacks. For example, contestants are timed on how fast they can chop or saw a log. Both handsaws and chainsaws are used in the competition.

Anyone who can participate safely in an event can enter, said Salem. There is an entry fee, but the top three competitors in each event win cash prizes and the overall winner receives a chain saw. The show starts at noon and ends around 3:30 p.m.

The competition reflects the work of the legendary logger Paul Bunyan, who is now a part of American folklore. This legend was the logo for the Red River Lumber Company, which built Westwood.

A festival tradition is Blue Ox Bingo, in which squares are sold and the winner picked when a steer relieves itself while grazing on a grassy area with numbered squares. The amount won depends on how many squares are sold. Crafters will be selling their wares at booths and there will also be vendors selling antique furniture, collectables and repurposed items. There is a full arts and craft section from which to browse and make selections. Booths open at 11 a.m.

A wide variety of items are sold in the craft vendor area at the Paul Bunyan Mountain and Blues Festival including collectibles, antiques and refurbished and repurposed items.

As usual, musical entertainment is available to festival goers who can bring a blanket or lawn chair and stake out a home base on the lawn near the stage which is shaded by pine trees. This year The Amy Celeste Band and Southside Growlers provide the blues entertainment. Bands entertain from noon to 4:30 p.m.

People at the music venue do not have to walk far for a wide selection of food items such as tacos, hamburgers, barbecue and ice cream. Gates for the festival open at 11 a.m. and tickets are available for purchase.

For more information on the Paul Bunyan Mountain and Blues Festival, call the Westwood Chamber of Commerce at 256-2456 or visit the website at westwoodareachamber.com.