Returning to the Shasta District Fair grounds in Anderson after a two-year hiatus in Redding, the 63rd annual Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference and Equipment Show (Feb. 8-11) is getting back to its roots in 2012, said conference President Mark Lathrop.
Uncertainty regarding the City of Redding’s lease of its convention center to a private operator caused show officials to reconsider the location earlier this year, Lathrop said.
When not planning the largest forest products and construction equipment exposition in the western United States, Lathrop serves as Community Relations Manager for Anderson-based Sierra Pacific Industries.
Plans for this year’s event got underway almost immediately after last year’s conference ended, Lathrop said.
“The board members and their committees have been working out the details to make this conference the best ever,” Lathrop said. “We plan to have all of the same events that have made the logging conference wildly popular with the public each year. Plus, we are adding a new event, the log-loading skills competition, which promises to add even more excitement.”
Some of California’s top college logging sports teams — including Humboldt State University, the University of California at Berkeley, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Shasta College and Modesto Community College — will compete in ax throwing, underhand chopping, choker setting, hand saw (single buck, double buck and Jack & Jill) as well as power saw races for the “Bull of the Woods” title and a perpetual trophy, Lathrop said.
In addition, logging sports professionals and former college participants will perform and provide demonstrations that instruct and inspire student competitors, he added.
While many of the competitions hearken to an earlier era when teams of beefy woodsmen used razor-sharp steel axes and two-man buck saws to chop down forest giants and cut them into logs ready for transport to nearby sawmills, the fairgrounds will also feature displays of the newest mechanized cutting, pruning, bucking and loading equipment that perform all those functions in mere seconds, Lathrop said.
“We hold an annual conference to enable manufacturers and dealers to display and demonstrate equipment, tools and supplies relating to forest management and construction, including conservation groups, recreational groups and other industries of common interest,” the conference website states.
Another important function of the annual trade show is to promote better understanding of the forest products industry by the general public, Lathrop explained.
“We want to encourage and aid the training and proficiency of young people interested in logging, forestry and related fields even as we continue to promote the art, practice and standards of safe logging and responsible forestry in our industry,” he said.
Something new this year: NASCAR fans will have a chance to own actual race helmets autographed by Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton or Clint Bowyer, Lathrop wrote in a Facebook post.
The helmets will be offered to the highest bidders during the Friday evening Lumberjack Banquet and Education Auction, held this year at the Gaia Shasta Hotel, 4125 Riverside Drive, in Anderson.
Admission to the banquet is by ticket only and costs $50 per person.
Also new this year is a Saturday breakfast honoring all of the conference’s past presidents who can attend, he noted.
“We started looking at all of the folks who are in the industry and they are the ones who have gotten us through several years of a tough economy. They are tough individuals and we want to honor them,” Lathrop said.
A golf tournament at Gold Hills Country Club in Redding at 9 a.m. and a noon media competition get things underway Wednesday, Feb. 8, but the Conference officially begins with the traditional Kickoff Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in Fusaro Hall at the fairgrounds in Anderson.
Third generation Etna rancher Jeff Fowle, a past-President of the Ag Chat Foundation, will be the featured speaker at the Kickoff Breakfast.
Tickets to the event are $25 per person.
Fowle will also present a free seminar at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10, titled “Social Media: Make It Work for You and Your Industry.” Fowle began using social media three years ago and currently has 40,000 active followers on Twitter. His blog receives more than 4,000 hits each week.
With a clear desire to help others and advocate for agriculture, Fowle teaches others to “discover their own voice and become influencers” using social networks to promote issues as well as business, Lathrop said.
Show vendors will be featured guests during the President’s Reception, a 6 p.m. dinner set for Thursday, Feb. 9, in Fusaro Hall. Tickets for that event are $30 each.
A Ladies Day Brunch will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10, in the Community Room at Anderson City Hall.
Tickets are $10, which includes a tri-tip and chicken barbecue luncheon catered by Anderson Rotary Club. Entertainment will be provided by rising Country music singer Summer Schappell, accompanied by Lou White.
Except those noted above, all other events, exhibits and competitions at the fairgrounds are admission-free and the public is encouraged to attend, Lathrop said.
Returning this year is the ever-popular wildlife show put on by Wild Things, founded in 1987 to house and care for displaced wildlife while educating the public regarding the importance of conservation and an appreciation for natural wonders, the conference website states.
A wide variety of animals will be displayed in the Pepsi Pavilion at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, and two shows on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
If inclement weather, however, the animal shows will move to the Joe Spear Judging Arena that offers covered seating on metal bleachers.
“On behalf of the board of directors, committee chairs and committee members, we invite you to the 63rd annual Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again this year,” Lathrop said.