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July 18, 2013

Lumberjack festival thrives, minus lumberjacks

By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — This year’s Deposit Lumberjack Festival will feature many events and activities, but no lumberjacks.

“The local people wanted a change,” said Lumberjack Festival President John Alfano.

The 37th annual Lumberjack Festival, which will be held today through Sunday, will contain no lumberjack competitions or exhibitions, which have been staples of numerous past lumberjack festivals.

Mr. Alfano said that he and the festival board had gotten a lot of feedback from residents to do away with the competitions, where attendance had been low.

“Nobody showed up for the events,” Alfano said.

Because of this, the board opted to forgo a New York State Lumberjack Association-sanctioned competition last year in favor of The Indian River Olde Time Lumberjack show, an exhibition that, according to Alfano, is very family focused. Alfano said the show was a success, but that this year they wanted to change things up again.

“It’s like going to a mall,” he said, “you have to revamp your storefront or move.”

Alfano said that last year’s Lumberjack festival was a great success, and that this year’s looks to be even more so.

“People have found out it was getting better,” he said.

One of the reasons he cites for this was that last year’s festival saw the hiring of Hawkins Amusements to run the midway for the first time.

“Everything’s family oriented, big-time family oriented,” said Alfano, praising the quality of Hawkins rides, as well as their use of park benches to allow festival-goers to rest.

Hawkins will be running the midway for the Lumberjack Festival again this year.

The good buzz around last year’s Lumberjack Festival also seems to have attracted more vendors. Last year’s street fair, held on Front Street, had around 30 vendors, but this year, 75 have registered, the most in the festival’s history.

“People are actually calling us and I have to turn them away,” Alfano said.

On the food side of things, Alfano said that of the 11 food vendors, only one of each food specialist has been allowed in. For instance, the festival will have only one funnel cake maker and only one blooming onion maker.

“The food is delicious,” said Alfano, noting that the vendors were selected for their quality.

Festival events include the Sylvia and the Magic Trunk puppet show today, the Deposit Lumberjack and Jill Pageant on Friday, the Philip & Henry Magic Show, a 5k run and a street fair Saturday, horseshoe competitions Saturday and Sunday, a pony pull Saturday and a garden tractor pull Sunday.

Those who would like to attend a lumberjack competition can see one July 27 in Hancock during the town’s Firemen’s Field Days.