Call us existentialists, but we can’t help but wonder: If you have a Lumberjack Festival without any lumberjacks, is it still a Lumberjack Festival?
The 37th annual event by that name went off in Deposit last weekend with a lot of the features one would expect. There was a midway, and a full slate of vendors; a 5k run, a pony pull, a tractor pull and a horseshoe competition; and, for the little ones, puppets and a magic show.
True, there was a “Lumberjack and Jill Pageant,” but we suspect the event was in fact open to men and women of all professions.
Mind you, we don’t fault the organizers for making a change. According to Lumberjack Festival President John Alfano, the festival board was merely giving the people what they want.
Despite giving the festival its ostensible raison d’etre, the lumberjack competitions and demonstrations of previous years had apparently been poorly attended.
Or, as Alfano bluntly put it, “Nobody showed up for the events.”
So the board said bye-bye to the lumberjacks. Case closed.
“It’s like going to a mall,” Alfano said, “you have to revamp your storefront or move.”
But if the name of your store is Joe’s Shoes, and you decide to start selling ice cream instead, wouldn’t you change the sign out front?
Don’t get us wrong. We’re thrilled to see this tradition not only continuing, but thriving. Alfano said interest in the festival was so high this year that the board was actually turning away vendors.
This is fantastic news. The recent demise of the Meredith Dairy Fest has illustrated the difficulties of keeping these sorts of events vital, year-in and year-out. And if this is what it takes to keep The Event Formerly Known as the Lumberjack Festival going strong, then we’re all for it.
But if the whole lumberjack thing is really not drawing the crowds anymore, then why not change the name, too?
To plenty of people, the annual event is already known simply as “Deposit Days.” Sure, the name may lack panache, but at least it’s more honest than calling it a “Lumberjack Festival” with a little asterisk that says, “No actual lumberjacks were included in the making of this festival.”
No matter what you call it, we’re happy that Alfano and his colleagues have put on another successful event for the people of Deposit and the surrounding area. And who knows? Maybe next year, the lumberjacks will be back. Whatever happens, we hope the event continues to be a hit.