Saturday, October 4, 2014

Forest Festival draws hardcore outdoorspeople, despite snowstorm

A full-blown autumn snowstorm did little to dampen the enthusiasm of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen today at the 17th annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival.

Event organizers and competitors awoke to several inches of heavy, wet snow, but the ax throwing, log rolling and other woodsmen-style competitions went on as planned.

Matthew Balazs, left, and Marc Oggier build a campfire near Ballaine Lake.
"There was some good competition," volunteer Tom Malone said. "There weren't as many people but the times were close and the competition was good."

The only reason the new Belle of the Woods Ruby Baxter competes every year is because it's fun. She said she enjoys the sawing events the best.

"There is no better way to bring on winter," said competitor Matthew Balazs. "It's the last hurrah. It's good fun and good people." His favorite events are fire building and ax throwing.

Competitor Britton Kerin said he keeps coming back for the fun. "It's a nice fall activity; it gets you out," he said.

Christin Anderson competes in the birling event.
"It's my favorite time of year," said three-time Belle of the Woods Alice Orlich. "As community events go, this is definitely my favorite. You get people who have never done it before and you get the seasoned ones who up the ante and give it the edge."

First-time competitor Christin Anderson said she competed for her sister Teri (a former Belle of the Woods) and her boyfriend, who works on the North Slope. "He does things just for the doing," Anderson said. "I'm not that kind of person and I wanted to see what it's like." She competed in the ax throw, pulp toss and birling.

Perhaps it was a bystander during the birling who said it best. Watching the competitors fall into the chilly waters of Ballaine Lake, he said, "I consider myself pretty tough but I'm not doing that."
Best dressed: Competitors Adrian Baer and Nicole McKenzie came all the way from Palmer to compete with their team, the High Fallutin Aristocrats. Baer is a 2011 UAF geography graduate.

2014 winners

Belle of the Woods: Ruby Baxter
Bull of the Woods: Jason Buist


Ax throwing men: Matthew Balazs
Ax throwing women: Brenda Burk

Double buck saw men: Pete Buist, Jason Buist
Double buck saw women: Ashley Strauch, Ruby Baxter

Single buck saw men: Jason Buist
Single buck saw women: Ruby Baxter

Birling men: John Haley
Birling women: Ruby Baxter

Team events

Best overall team: Old Growth
Second-place team: Satan's Minions

Campfire building: Old Growth
Pulp toss: High-Fallutin Aristocrats
Log roll men: Ryan Adam, Scott Leorna
Log roll women: Christina Tachick, Tamlyn Siloa
Jack and Jill log roll: Adrian Baer, Nicole McKenzie

The event is hosted by the faculty at the School of Natural Resources, Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest staff and the Resource Management Society. Generous donations that helped make the event possible were provided by Northland Wood and the Great Alaska Bowl Co.

Winners named above who did not stay to receive their prizes are asked to contact Nancy Tarnai, ntarnai@alaska.edu. Certificates are also being prepared for all the winners.


Bull of the Woods Jason Buist and Belle of the Woods Ruby Baxter.


Eric Cook, left, and Jason Thies compete in a sawing event.

The winner's circle: competitors who earned prizes are pictured.


John Haley wore a cow costume for the birling event and took first place for the men's category.

1 comment:

ianajohnson.com said...

Too bad I missed it this year! Looks like it was a great event! Thanks for the update.