Lumberjack Festival

Seney Snowmobile Association Helps Sponsor Lumberjack Festival

By Stephen King

On the last Saturday in August, I made the short trip over to Seney to partake in the annual Lumberjack Festival. Now, why in the world would a snowmobile magazine be covering a Lumberjack Festival? First, I used to be one. With chainsaw in hand, trees feared me. For a few decades, I made my way in the world “working in the woods.” Basically, a modern-day lumberjack.

So, that is why I was interested. But, the magazine? Because one of the main sponsors was the local snowmobile club, the Seney Snowmobile Association.

Like many snowmobile clubs in many of the rural areas, they have taken on many activities normally done by a Chamber of Commerce or other business association. This is because in small rural areas there are often no other clubs or associations around. The clubs are organized and are used to putting on various activities. So, they naturally fill a void.

“We used to have this back quite a few years ago,” said Marc Schooley, president of the Seney Snowmobile Association. “For various reasons, they stopped doing it. Then, a few years ago, I and a few others thought about reviving it. And, so far, it seems to be doing well.”

Lumberjack Festival

He said the association is doing it because they want to help the community where they live. Sponsoring Lumberjack Days is one way to do that.

“It helps everyone,” he said. “First, it is a good community event; but it also showcases the club and what we do. And it gets more people involved with the club and then more people end up joining the club. So, everybody wins.”

I also chatted up Randy Dunn, president of the Seney Museum, where they have a very nice display from days gone by when Seney was a logging boom town. They also have quite a bit on Ernest Hemmingway, as the famous author spent a lot of time in this area. He based one of his more famous short stories, “The Big Two Heart,” in this area. Also, the museum is the recipient of the money raised at the festival.

“The Lumberjack Festival is a whole community event. Just about everybody has gotten involved in some way,” Dunn said.

Lumberjack Festival

“This is an annual event that we have the weekend before Labor Day. We have a parade, a craft show with a variety of vendors, bounce houses for the kids, a chainsaw carver, entertainment in the evening and the horse pulling. This is starting to catch on. We seem to be getting more people here each year.”

Now, I am not a horsey- type person. Not even sure which end you are supposed to milk. Seriously. I grew up in a commercial fishing town. Boats, nets, fish, water. And, in the winter, we used snowmobiles to go out on the lake and tend our nets. No horses.

But I did make it there for the parade and ran into a few friends from the Engadine area. Becky and Ed Freed, and a couple of their kids, Mike Houghton and Marci Butkovich were there. Just by chance, pulled in and parked next to them.

Had fun watching the parade. Little 9-year-old Starr Freed was perhaps the happiest — and got totally inventive. Because of the impending rain, she had an umbrella. And, in a bit of childish innovation, decided that if you turned it upside down, it worked perfectly for catching the candy the people in the parade were tossing out.

Now, this was not the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it was pretty cool. They had most of the local emergency equipment there. Plus, the snowmobile club had both of its groomers in the parade, which was a big thrill for most of the crowd.

Lumberjack Festival

Then, as the parade ended, Mike told me, “Now, the real parade starts.”
A bit puzzled, I gave him the old “double eyebrow” look.

“Check out all of the ORVs. We’re heading out onto the trails,” he said.

I think I was looking at about a good dozen, perhaps maybe 20, ORVs. Both side-by-sides and quads. And, as the Seney club is also an ORV club, it was most appropriate.

I headed over to the rest of the event. There, the crafters and the vendors were getting up and running. I checked out a local blacksmith, Caleb Tranchita, who makes some totally awesome blades, knives, axes and a variety of other items, most of which are both functional and a work of art. Many of the knives have deer-horn handles.

Then, there was a lady who made mittens, and a host of people selling jewelry and many other items. Most of which were handmade.

Food vendors also were there and, in keeping with my journalistic ethics, I had to try out a couple. First, I had some frozen lemonade, which was like a lemonade slushy — so tasty I had to go back for another.

That was because I needed something to wash down the awesome smoked BBQ brisket I tried. My old friend, Howard Bliss, had his Old Town Smokey Delights food wagon there.

Lumberjack Festival

Years ago, my old friend, mentor and publisher Lyle Shipe always teased me about how much I enjoyed the food at the events I would attend. He often asked whether it was the snowmobiling or the good food I liked best. Usually, I replied, “The food. This snowmobiling stuff is just a good excuse to get some really good food.” He would laugh.

At the festival, as I was walking by, Howard asks, “Wanna try some brisket?”  

I responded, “No, but my dog might.”
He came right back, “Your dog!”

He got over my little quip and handed me a very nice sample. Before I even tasted it, I knew it was awesome. The smell alone was incredible. He had smoked and roasted and done whatever to it. It had great taste and just the right flavor from the BBQ sauce.

For years, I always said the best BBQ I ever had was from a vendor down at the MSA show in Hastings. But Howard has just moved into the No. 1 spot. (Don’t tell him this, but my little doggy, Prince, thought it was paw-licking good as well.)

Anyway, the Seney Lumberjack Festival was a pretty good way to spend a day. The weather was a damp, but the weather did not dampen the spirits of those who attended. A squall would come through. Everyone would duck for cover. The squall would pass. We would pop back out.

And it looked like everyone was having fun. So, next summer, make sure to be in the Seney area on the weekend before Labor Day. Not the biggest event I have ever attended, but it was small town fun at it’s very best.

Scroll to Top