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Labor Day Weekend in Fort Bragg Means Paul Bunyan Days and a Lumber-Jack Rowdy Good Time!

Staff Report | Lloyd Green Jr.

Labor Day weekend embarks the end of the summer season, and what is a better way to celebrate Labor Day than a four day event packed with a logging show, ugly dog contest, craft show, pie sales, fireman’s water-fight, horseshoe tournament, a classic car show, and concluding the festivities with a labor day parade and bbq.

There was a bittersweet atmosphere in the air as many locals were morning the loss of Councilman Jere Melo. This could be seen as many floats adorned flags, and signs expressing their tributes. Councilman Jere Melo was shot and killed August 27th, when he approached an illegal drug growing operation.

Named for the bigger-than-life logger and his giant blue ox, the festival celebrates the history of the community and pays tribute to the strength of the people who live here. The theme this year is “All Aboard! Fort Bragg to Willits with Paul & Babe” to commemorate 100 years of riding the Skunk from Fort Bragg to Willits.

Despite the Chilly weather spectators gathered at the College of the Redwoods where several activities commenced during the 72nd’ annual community celebration and logging show.

Men and Women from all around the state came to participate in the logging show’s competition portion. The events included: pole climb, women’s axe throw, Jack and Jill handsaw, men’s chainsaw bucking, women’s chainsaw bucking, men’s hand chop, women’s hand chop, choker setting, men’s double buck handsaw, women’s double buck handsaw, men’s single buck handsaw, women’s single buck hand saw, and men’s axe throw.

Although many of the contestants ranged from the novice of competitors to the experienced professionals, there was one competitor that displayed his many years of logging service, and experience during the men’s double buck handsaw competition, Robert Curtis of Fort Bragg, Ca.

At 93-years-old, Robert “Bob” Curtis of Fort Bragg mocks at the idea of slowing down even after having a pacemaker installed just a few months back. Curtis is a regular attendee of the annual logging show. For the last several years Curtis has competed in one of the hardest competitions, the men’s double buck handsaw competition, and he wasn’t going to let his age or medical hurdles to stop him from competing again.

“I asked the doctor if it would be OK to compete, especially with my pacemaker.” Said Curtis in a phone interview, “the doctor said it was ok for me to compete and there was nothing stopping me.”

The double buck handsaw competition requires strength, stamina, and timing the event represents how the huge redwoods were cut before mechanical saws came along. Curtis knows this all from a first hand experience as a professional logger-man whom also built his log cabin home using the same techniques.

“My saw partner (Craig Barnett) was worried about competing with me” said Curtis, “when we were done, he was amazed that he could keep up with me.”

Although the duo finished in fifth place, no other competitor could come close to Curtis’ experience.

“When we were done, the crowd was cheering and ‘hooting’,” said Curtis, “they were letting me know I did a great job.”

Curtis expects to compete in next year’s event and continues to be a crowd favorite at the logging show.

Curtis is the Grandfather to Jennie (Stamps) Green of Arbuckle. Curtis currently resides and cares for his loving wife Pauline Curtis, 97, in Fort Bragg, California.

For more photos of the event, visit our website at www.williams-farmer.com.

Paul Bunyan Days is a community celebration and celebrates its 72nd year. For more information about the Fort Bragg Paul Bunyan Days visit their website at www.paulbunyandays.com. ■

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