Reminiscent of a by-gone Clinton era with all the modern amenities, The Sawmill Museum’s First Annual Lumberjack Festival promises to be both exciting and surprising. The world-class competition, which will take place July 16 on the Museum’s grounds at Main Avenue and Grant Street, boasts international athletes and activities for all ages.

“This is actually the only professional (lumberjack) competition I could find for the state of Iowa,” said Stephanie Brisch, event organizer. “It’s pretty exciting.”

The festival kicks off at noon with food vendors and activities for children and adults, including a pie-eating contest, boat races, and a trackless train ride, Brisch stated. Games will be hosted by the Lyons Business and Professional Association. Also, Best Buy will be hosting a Wii station that will feature a lumberjack game, allowing adults and kids to safely try their hand at the age-old art, indicated Brisch.

“Starting at 2 p.m., we’ll be having the (lumberjack) competition,” Brisch stated. “These (competitors) are the professionals that you see on TV on ESPN. We have a pretty impressive field of competitors coming to town.”

Approximately 35 competitors consisting of men and women will be taking part in activities including a Springboard Chop and Hot Saw competition. The Springboard Chop involves ascending a nine-foot pole using simply an ax and a set of springboards, indicated Brisch. In the Hot Saw competition, participants use a modified chain saw to cut a log.

“A lot of times, the engine they use is from a motorcycle,” said Brisch of the modified chain saws. “It lasts maybe 10 seconds, where they make three cuts through a log.”

Competitors will be coming from not only the U.S., but Canada and New Zealand as well. Many are title-holders and compete in global events, indicated Brisch. Among those participating are Mel Lentz, considered “King of the Lumberjacks,” and Nancy Zalewski, six-time World Title winner and world record holder for the Women’s Underhand Chop.

Following the competition, a street dance and concert featuring the local band Slough Buoys will take place at 7 p.m.

“We’re looking to have over 2,000 people attend this event,” Brisch stated. “We’re hoping that we’re going to have people outside of Clinton attending, so it will be great for our community. It’s something we’re hoping to grow each year and having Clinton be a destination for this event.”

Brisch stated that the festival has been advertised in the Quad Cities; Dubuque; Morrison, Ill.; and Rock Falls, Ill. She is also anticipating attendees from Chicago due to online advertising via Facebook.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children, and can be purchased at The Sawmill Museum, Wild Rose Casino, Don’s Jewelry, Clinton National Bank’s main branch, Citizens First Bank, Maid Rite and McEleney. Additional information can be found at www.thesawmillmuseum.org.

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