Comedic lumberjacks a summer fair highlight

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Packed crowds have greeted the West Coast Lumberjacks to the Prince Albert Fair and Exhibition.

 

“I was actually surprised for the first day of the fair we had a full house for a couple of the shows,” lumberjack Darren Dean said. “I was surprised, for the fair’s first day.”

The group’s first of three Wednesday afternoon performances was met with similar acclaim, with people of all ages laughing at what Dean admits are some pretty “corny jokes.”

Although they joke around a fair amount onstage (at one point, Dean insists that a slice of log is a DVD of the day’s performance, which he encouraged a kid to ram into his parents’ DVD player), behind their showmanship is Canadian lumberjack history.

“Probably half of the things we do in the show are from days gone by,” Dean said. “The modern lumberjacks don’t do these things anymore.”

As the show’s eldest member, Harris Starrett, 74, has seen the craft evolve over the years.

He started work in the forest industry as a 13-year-old boy in British Columbia and remained active until he sustained serious injuries in a 2010 motor vehicle incident.

“I like working in the bush,” he said. “When you leave it, you want to go back because you’re so bored.”

Though some things have changed over his 61 years in the industry, Starrett notes that some of the skills demonstrated at the West Coast Lumberjacks show remain relevant.

Planking is still performed on the West Coast, he said -- the grand finale to Wednesday’s 2 p.m. performance.

This is where lumberjacks carve slits into standing trees to jam a plank into, which they stand on in order to either carve in another plank or to cut into a tree from another angle.

Although he’s out of the forestry industry due to his injury, Starrett said that travelling with the West Coast Lumberjacks has awarded him a new opportunity to share the skills he’s learned over a lifetime in the bush.

“I get to meet new people, and people you’re with generally have a lot of fun.”

The West Coast Lumberjacks are performing three times per day at the Prince Albert Fair and Exhibition, including shows at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. 

Organizations: Prince Albert Fair

Geographic location: British Columbia, West Coast

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