North County makes new friends every year as more visitors travel to Amboy for Territorial Days
Michael McCormic, Jr.
AMBOY — The buzz of a dozen chainsaws echoes through the park as children and adults alike sit on the grass with their eyes glued to the arena. Laughter echoes from the beer garden when a 250-pound logger loses his balance on a rolling log and hits the water. It is a community celebration unlike any other, and that is exactly the way Amboy likes its Territorial Days.
Considered by many Amboy residents to the be the best weekend of the year, the annual Amboy Territorial Days kicked off on July 13 and closed on July 15. Area families and visitors from across the state were not in short supply of a good time; carnival rides, live music and a vendor’s market operated throughout the weekend, while special events including a parade, log show, and lawnmower race kept the crowds entertained.
As explained by Travis Hafner, a self-described “Ambodian” and logging show competitor, Amboy celebrates Territorial Days because, “It’s the days we got our post office; it’s the celebration of becoming a town. It’s a time we can all get together and do what built the town, have fun, and drink a few beers.”
The Amboy Territorial Days Log Show, often considered to be the main event at the North County festival, is a massive woodsman competition featuring logging professionals from across the state. Despite temperatures that reached well into the 90s, the Log Show drew hundreds of spectators on Saturday.
Kyle McKee, a coordinator for the show, defines the event as, “A series of different events set up to showcase some things that take place in the logging industry. Not all events are set up as to how a logger would see them at work but a general idea. It highlights an individual’s ability to sharpen a chain, or set a choker, ability to build a fast running saw, or climb a pole.”
As an event that celebrates the area’s heritage of logging and forestry, the log show draws several dozen loggers from the North County area, as well as many competitors who travel to Amboy specifically for this competition. One such visitor is Jeff Fetter, a log show extraordinaire from Buckley, WA.
Described by some of his fellow competitors as “God’s gift to logging,” Fetter had previously won the All-Around Logger award nine times, and managed to take the title again this year. Though a competitor from out of town, Fetter appreciates that the Amboy residents have welcomed him and his fellow Buckley loggers into the community.
Reflecting on the 12 years he has competed at Territorial Days, Fetter says, “The best thing about Territorial Days is all the friends we’ve made down here over the years.” He goes on to explain, “Everybody down here in Amboy has accepted all of us from Buckley with open arms and it’s one of our favorite shows to go to.”
For many in the logging community from Amboy, the log show is a way to make new friends and catch up with the old. McKee claims that one of his favorite things about being involved with Territorial Days is “getting to see the people that travel from out of town to compete. Catching up on what life has given us over the last year.”
Among the events at the log show, a few categories were specifically tailored for younger logging generations, including a kids choker set. In this event, competitors must hurdle over two logs and set a choker cable on a third log, then return the way they came and jump back over the first two logs once again.
One young competitor seen hurdling over the logs and setting a choker wore a pink hard hat and a tiara. Cassandra Goble, who has been competing in the children’s choker set since she was six years old, had just been crowned Territorial Days Queen the night prior.
Goble, whose coronation was an especially momentous event thanks to two special men in her life, explains, “Last night it was really interesting because my dad was originally out on fire and my grandpa was going to escort me, but my dad surprised me by coming and being my escort for the rest of the coronation. So both my dad and my grandpa escorted me that night.”
Goble was crowned at the coronation ceremony on July 13, having sold the most number of raffle tickets for the Territorial Days Princess Court competition. The record number of ticket sales was 9,450 $1 tickets, but Goble was not far behind, having sold 8,527. Even still, her newfound title as Territorial Days Queen did not stop Goble from competing in the log show.
“I really like doing the choker setting; its a lot of fun,” says Goble. “Even though usually, I place last, every time I still have a lot of fun, because now I’m actually able to get over the logs without having to climb.”
As a weekend-long event, Territorial Days attracts plenty of area families who want to experience everything the festival has to offer. Chan Massie, an Amboy resident and father, kept his family busy all day at the festival, beginning bright and early on Saturday morning.
“We started out the day going to the parade, so that’s the highlight for the kids. There’s lots of candy for them, they had a good time,” Massie explains.
From carnival to parade and log show to lawn mower races, Amboy Territorial Days proved this year, just as it does every other year, what a welcoming, small town community can accomplish with open arms, a few chainsaws, and no short supply of personality.
Territorial Days closed Sunday evening after a full weekend of fun and community celebration.