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Lumberjacks revive tradition at Stony Creek

LUMBERJACKS & JILLS - Teamed up with her father Tim Keech of Bloomfield, Laura Keech of Bloomfield yanks on her end of a crosscut saw during a lumberjack competition held recently at the Stony Creek Mountain Festival.

LUMBERJACKS & JILLS - Teamed up with her father Tim Keech of Bloomfield, Laura Keech of Bloomfield yanks on her end of a crosscut saw during a lumberjack competition held recently at the Stony Creek Mountain Festival. Photo by Thom Randall.

— “It’s a great town and a great crowd,” he said adding that his group plans to return to Stony Creek in 2012.

This year was the first time that Stony Creek had lumberjack competitions since 1991. For many years, it had been a beloved tradition that drew many people to the old “Mountain Days” festival, recalled Rhonda Thomas as she watched competitors rip through wood with crosscut saws, soon after hurling heavy dual-blade axes into a target. Thomas, Treasurer of the Stony Creek Chamber of Commerce, was a key figure in bringing back the lumberjack events as she helped plan the 2011 Mountain Festival.

She worked to revive the local tradition, she said, because she loved watching the lumbering skills competitions decades ago as a child, attending Mountain Days.

Thomas said the 2011 festival drew the biggest crowd in recent years.

“The food booths were slammed today,” she said on the fest’s concluding day. “And last night we were busy despite the rain.”

She said a large crowd enjoyed dancing under the pavilion to the mountain music of Adirondack Gold.

“The place was packed,” she said, noting that the night before, dozens danced in the streets at the town center.

Nearby, lumberjack competitor Jake Bederian, 34, of Warrensburg ripped through timber with his bow saw in an event-winning 7.39 seconds.

He said he enjoyed being back in front of a hometown crowd. The last time he competed in Stony Creek, he said, it was as a young teenager.

That year, he said, a competitor in the standing chop event slashed through his boot and cut his toe off.

“It’s safer now, there’s better safety equipment, and it’s more family-oriented — there’s no alcohol,” he said, noting he enjoyed competing in a half-dozen of the events in contests held across the state.

“This is what the Adirondacks was built on — lumberjacking,” he said.

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