Community involvement sprouts at Lumberjack Festival

Home Features Community involvement sprouts at Lumberjack Festival
Community involvement sprouts at Lumberjack Festival

By Kimberly Bogers

A crowd of people cheer wildly as a man in a plaid shirt throws an ax towards a target several yards away; children laugh as they take turns rolling a giant log from one checkpoint to another; families enjoy hot dogs and burgers as they admire beautiful flowers and flourishing plants. All of this and more happened during the Pensacola State College/University of Florida Lumberjack Festival and Flower & Garden Show.

The Milton PSC/UF campus hosted these two, popular local events on March 6th-7th, two sunny and summer-esque days.

This is the first time that the two events have worked with each other. The Flower & Garden Show was held through the 6th and the 7th, and the Lumberjack Festival was held on the 7th.

The Lumberjack Festival’s coordinator, Greg Ledit, was in charge of the Lumberjack Games and he explained who started the Lumberjack Festival and why.

“Dr. Conrad Brew started the festival as a community outreach to teach the community about the forest around them. [It is] a fun event for families around the area. He [Brew] has since retired from Pensacola State College.”

Throughout the campus, there were stands showcasing carved, wooden models and statues, stands selling food and refreshments, local clubs from the campus and groups from the community advertising their services and upcoming events and a table of tree seedlings that were free of charge to the public.

One of the most popular stands at the event was run by some of the PSC and UF faculty members.

“The faculty and staff run a concessions booth selling hot dogs and hamburgers,” Ledit said, “to raise money for our Relay For Life Donation.”

There were also people at the event providing entertainment including bluegrass musicians and wood carvers.

Andy Cummings was at the event making chainsaw sculptures. This was Cumming’s 10th year working with the Lumberjack Festival.

“I’ve been with it awhile,” Cummings said. “It’s a fun event, it’s a good family oriented thing. I’ve seen the kids grow up and start participating, so it has been fun.”

Cummings started creating pieces of art from logs when he first became involved with the Lumberjack Festival back in 2005.

“I’ve been chainsaw sculpting since when I started here. We’ve kind of grown together.”

When asked why he started chainsaw sculpting in the first place, Cummings explained that he was inspired when he saw all of the wood remnants in the area that were going to waste.

“So much waste.” Cummings said. “I can take a little piece of wood and make it come back to life.”

The biggest part of the Lumberjack Festival was the Lumberjack Games. There were 11 different game categories, from the Knife Throw Competition to the Bow Saw Competition. Large crowds gathered to watch people roll logs, throw axes, chop wood and cross-cut wood.

Even Dr. Anthea Amos, the Dean of the Milton PSC/UF campus, joined in the fun; she participated in the Women’s Cross-Cutting Competition.

Amos feels that the event this  year was a big success.

“I enjoyed seeing so many students and their families attending [the event] as well as many families from the community,” said Amos. “This year we had many more students participating in all events and encouraging each other.” 

She added that the event would not have been half as successful or enjoyable if not for all of the great people who worked behind the scenes.

“This would not have been possible without hours of volunteer help from faculty, staff and students and from all the sponsors who donated prizes [for the lumberjack games].”

The Flower and Lumberjack Festival was a very popular event for the Milton PSC/UF campus this semester, and it provided the local community with a free, family-friendly way to spend a sunny March weekend.


Photos by Kimberly Bogers