PUBLISHED: 2:03 PM on Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Gold Rush Days at Dimond Park

Photo by Christina Holmgren
  Sonie Blackwell supplying the oil for Dennis Clark in the 2004 single handbucking contest.
Every year, thousands of people gather in Juneau's Dimond Park to celebrate the city's rich logging and mining history. This year, Gold Rush Field will again play host to those who want to learn more about Juneau's heritage, as well as those who hope to go home with the gold.

"Typically, we have about 150 to 200 participants competing in the events, and thousands more who come out to watch," said Calvin Crumrine, a member of the Juneau Gold Rush Commission. "If the weather's good, and it has been very good this summer, I wouldn't be surprised to see between 15,000 and 20,000 people."

Photo by Christina Holmgren
  When the grownup contestants break at noon, it's the kids' turn to compete.
The crowds come out to enjoy a number of activities, ranging from the logging and mining competitions, to the Ruth Roberts Children's Carnival, to the food served up under the big blue tent. "We'll have a lot of vendors and exhibitors under the tent this year, including a number of groups like the Salvation Army, Chamber of Commerce, Montessori School and Filipino-American Community, who will be providing different food as a fundraiser."

Outside the tent, mining and logging activities will be taking place, including a number of crowd favorites. "There are three categories of mining events," said Crumrine. "Drilling, using a jackleg drill; spike driving; and hand- and power-mucking."

The spike driving and hand mucking events are open to men, women and children, as is the logging choker-setting competition. Other logging events include horizontal and vertical chopping; single and team power bucking and hand bucking; obstacle pole bucking; and the Iron Logger competition, in which a person has to participate in four events in succession. As of press time, it had not yet been determined if there would be climbing events, as the Commission was facing logistical difficulties getting the 90-foot long poles placed into the ground.

Photo by Christina Holmgren
  Nikki Reichert in the 2004 powerbucking.
"The pole bucking event is really fun to watch, thought it is not something that I would want to do," laughed Crumrine about one of Gold Rush Days' newest events.

"We prop a log up with its end in the air about four to five feet away from the supports. A person jumps onto the log, climbs out to the end, and then cuts a section of the log off with a chainsaw. Then they have to climb back down without falling."

"When you get down near the end, the log is only about eight to twelve inches in diameter," he added. "So it's a test of balance and agility, as well as skill with a chainsaw."

Photo by Christina Holmgren
  Little Mary Bennett was fascinated by last year's Gold Rush Days competitions.
The choker setting event is also a crowd-pleaser, according to Crumrine. "A person has to drag a 50-foot cable with a choker device on it about 60 feet," he explained.

"Then they have to climb over a log, which is about five feet in diameter, pass the cable under, loop it, and climb back over. This isn't an easy thing to do, especially for the smaller people."

For those in the crowd who would like to participate in an event but not take their lives in their hands, the Commission expects to have a gold panning competition that will be open to both children and adults. The Ruth Roberts Children's Carnival will also be taking place, which includes games, face painting and rides.

This year's Gold Rush Days will be held on June 25th and 26th, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and there is no cost to attend. Though still held in Dimond Park, it will be located further back in the park than in previous years, due to construction of the new high school.

"Juneau's history is built on logging and mining, and it's good to come out and see what the people in these industries do," said Crumrine. "It's also a wonderful time and it's free!"

Download the Gold Rush schedule of events! Saturday [pdf]
Sunday [pdf]