Logging Congress better than ever

ESCANABA – The 2013 Logging Congress and Equipment Expo, Sept. 6-7 in Escanaba, is full of excitement and demonstrations that many residents will find both entertaining and informative, according to organizers.

Aaron Nieman, event coordinator for the annual event, said exposition hours for this year’s show were changed to allow more time for both logging representatives from throughout the Midwest and local residents more time to enjoy the festivities.

This year’s show will take place at the U.P. State Fairgrounds Friday, Sept. 6, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 7, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. “We hope the extended hours, especially on Saturday, will help draw the local crowd who might be working Monday through Friday,” Nieman said.

The Logging Congress, sponsored by the Great Lakes Timber Producers Association based out of Rhinelander, Wis., draws 3,500 to 4,500 attendees each day, Nieman said.

“It’s both a celebration of the industry and an opportunity for loggers to get together with top leaders from logging equipment manufacturers and learn what type of equipment is coming around the bend,” Nieman said. “It’s also a great event for families, he added. “It’s not necessarily all business. It’s still kind of a logger’s holiday. A lot of attendees bring families and enjoy the sounds and smells of all the festivities,” he said.

One of the highlights of the annual event are various competitions where loggers get the opportunity to display their skill and speed, using impressive pieces of equipment moving large chunks of wood and placing them in small, specific locations. The more popular competitions are the Original Prentice Loader Championship and Great Lakes Forwarder Challenge.

Loggers taking part in the competitions win awards, trophies and, perhaps most importantly, bragging rights, Nieman said. They also qualify for national and international contests.

“There’s obviously going to be large equipment and forestry processing equipment and trucks, but what a lot of people come to see are the competitions,” Nieman said. He said another popular part of the congress is chainsaw alley where industry leaders mingle with wood carvers and other competitors. “The area is full of sights, sounds and smells that can’t be found anywhere else,” he said.

The Congress will feature approximately 200 exhibitors spread over 300 or so vendor booths. Organizers also work with the Delta County Chamber, which recruits food vendors and stands to present “a taste of Delta County.”

“This is a great, fun way to bring the world of forestry to local residents so they can see firsthand the positive impact forestry has on the area and region,” he added.

Parking for the event is $6 and admission is $10, which is good for both days of the Congress. The first Congress took place in 1945, and in 1948 it began taking place in various locations in Upper Michigan and Wisconsin in an attempt to maximize exposure and attendance.

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Vickie Micheau is director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce