How can I begin to describe how much fun and entertaining and accessible and fun and silly and endearing and emotional and fun the World Lumberjack Championships in Hayward, Wisconsin truly were?
I guess I just did, huh?
This event has such a communal feel to it, as if the lumber jacks and jills wood (sic) be competing even if the games weren’t on network TV. Which is good, because for whatever reason, the no-fun police at ESPN stopped broadcasting it a couple years ago. It’s ironic. When I told friends I was shooting this event, everyone of them smiled and started telling tales of watching it in the past on ESPN, completely hypnotized to the boob tube. ESPN, I thought you knew good TV when you saw it.
Saturday evening had killer light. Sunday? Not so much. But it was still fun. Great access with friendly people in charge, such as Diane and Larry. When you travel a couple thousand miles to take photos, it’s nice to feel welcomed.
A great story was that of J.R. Salzman, upper left, who won the logrolling championship for the 7th time – and his first since losing part of his right arm to a roadside bomb in Iraq 3 years ago. Afterwards, J.R. had a few moments to process his victory. I had trouble taking photos through my own tears. I love sports for what folks can accomplish and for what sports can mean in people’s lives.
There were several cool photographers around, such as Andrew Owen & Ross McDermott. They are working on a project on American festivals. Look forward to seeing that when it’s done.
A fun surprise was bumping into NY Times reporter (né columnist) John Branch, a sharp and witty character I see at the most random of events. He wrote a sweet piece for his paper, which isn’t that surprising, I suppose. Justin Maxon, who is interning at the Times, had some nice pix as well in their tag-team effort. It’s fun to see what other people see at the same event.
Because I received several requests for images from this weekend, I decided to post a gallery online, where people can order prints and see a larger selection. If you’re interested, please click here. Proceeds will go towards gas for the Jag and now-empty bags of cheese curds.
Great adventures require great friends. Thanks to Shauna Bittle for joining me on the road trip north … in the Jag.