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JUNEAU - After a year hiatus, the Gold Rush Days celebration is returning to Juneau, with two days of logging and mining events for the whole family.
19th annual celebration of mining and logging returns to Juneau June 27-28 062409 NEWS 1 CCW Editor JUNEAU - After a year hiatus, the Gold Rush Days celebration is returning to Juneau, with two days of logging and mining events for the whole family.


Ccw File Photos By Amanda Gragert

Animval Austin of Hoonah shows off a children's chair he carved from a stump, which was given away to an audience member during the Gold Rush Days celebration in 2007.


Ccw File Photos By Amanda Gragert

Benjamin Ericson, Lucas Ericson and Brian Ericson search for gold in 2007.


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2009 Gold Rush Days Schedule of Events

Gold Rush Days, Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28, at Savikko Park on Douglas Island.
BOTH DAYS

1-3 p.m.: Children's Carnival
All day: food and merchandise vendors and information booths; gold panning
SATURDAY, JUNE 27
8 a.m.: Opening ceremony, with flag
raising and soloist signing the National Anthem
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.: Mining Events
Men's Events
- 128 Overshot Mucking
- Hand Mucking
- Jackleg Drilling
- Spike Driving
- Team Drilling
Women's Events
- Hand Mucking
- Spike Driving
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Logging Events
Men's Events
- Axe Throwing
- Horizontal Chopping
- Log Rolling
- Obstacle Pole Bucking
- Power Saw Bucking
- Speed Climbing
- Vertical Chopping
- Choker Setter
Women's Events
- Axe Throwing
- Horizontal Chopping
- Log Rolling
- Obstacle Pole Bucking
- Power Saw Bucking
- Vertical Chopping
- Choker Setter
Team Events
- Choker Setter & Hook Tender Relay
- Jack & Jill Team Hand Building
- Team Hand Building
- Cable Splicing

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Story last updated at 6/24/2009 - 10:45 am

19th annual celebration of mining and logging returns to Juneau June 27-28
Gold Rush Days

JUNEAU - After a year hiatus, the Gold Rush Days celebration is returning to Juneau, with two days of logging and mining events for the whole family.

Now in its 19th year, the event celebrates Juneau's mining and logging past and present with competitions like hand mucking, spike driving, log rolling, axe throwing and pole climbing.

Professionals and amateurs alike will compete in the events, said event coordinator Jane Sullivan.

"We have some folks who have called us who were loggers years ago and still work in the industry," Sullivan said, "And then we have folks who do it just for fun. I think a lot of people come to see the events and get inspired and register (to participate). I'm excited to see what they have to show us."

It's a fun event, and Sullivan thinks that those unfamiliar with logging and mining get a bit of an introduction to the industries as well.

"It's very intense, it's not for the faint hearted," she said of logging. "You have to be aware and strong physically and sharp mentally. I think (watching the events) would create a new respect for these men and women and what they do. There's a lot of skill involved."

The events, like the jobs themselves, are not to be undertaken lightly, said miner and Gold Rush Commission director Jerry Harmon.

"Some of the events can be done with a little training," he said. "Most of them you need to know what you're doing.

FAMILY INDUSTRIES

Harmon has been a miner for 36 years, since he first moved to Alaska. He's always worked for Alaskan companies but has been "loaned out" and worked all over the world, in Canada, Africa and Brazil. Except for a brief stint at an open pit mine, he's been a hard rock miner underground for all those years. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love being a miner," he said. "You meet a lot of real good people. There's a great family life with mining."

With his uncles, cousins and children working in mines, it sure looks like Harmon's bloodline just might contain traces of precious metals.

"Right now I don't know of any place I'd rather live or any job I'd rather have than right here in Juneau, Alaska, working as a miner," Harmon said.

One thing the mining and logging industries have in common is the family atmosphere, Sullivan said. She and her family lived in Hoonah for many years, working at the Whitestone logging camp.

"Loggers aren't loggers for the money," Sullivan said. "Their fathers and grandfathers were loggers. They've grown up with it. They're just hard working, hard playing men and women."

And, she added, former loggers tend to miss the life - she certainly does.

"I miss the logging camp atmosphere, that extended family atmosphere," she said. "I think mining is much the same way. It's not all about climbing any corporate ladder and who can climb higher than the next guy. You have to get the product out. You really have to trust your coworkers."

Rush for all

Gold Rush Days began with a group of people who wanted to celebrate Juneau's mining heritage. The first celebration was in 1990, with a mining competition and picnic. Over the next couple of years, loggers got in on the fun and the event grew to a community wide celebration held in Dimond Park.

After the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines, Juneau's Gold Rush is the biggest event in the region, Harmon said, with as many as 10,000 people attending over the weekend.

When the new Dimond Park Fieldhouse was built, the city asked if Gold Rush Days could move to Savikko Park on Douglas Island. The new site wasn't quite ready last year, but now everything is on schedule for a return of the Rush.

"All the Parks & Rec guys have been good," Harmon said. "We've got a lot of support for this site. And a lot of businesses around town donate to us."

Event organizers said this year's celebration is shaping up well, with plenty of men and women signed up to compete, as well as plenty of food and merchandise vendors and information booths.

There will be kid's events, too, such as hand mucking involving a small ore cart, Harmon said.

For adults, both the men's and women's events can be very competitive. For five years in a row, a woman has taken the top honor for most all around points in all

events combined.

"We're going to put an end to that," Harmon said, laughing. "It's not embarrassing so much as we can't figure out why we can't beat 'em. We've got some very competitive women out there. So it's a challenge for all of us."

One of the best parts of the celebration is that everyone can enjoy it, whether they have connections to mining and logging or not, Harmon said.

"It brings all the people of Juneau together, whether we're miners or not," Harmon said. "We look at each other and say, well, maybe we're not as bad as we thought we were."

Not everyone has a good opinion of miners, Harmon said, but Gold Rush Days can help change some minds.

"I'm sure we won some of their hearts over," he said.

Sound like fun? You can still register to participate in any of the events any time before the morning of the event. Registration opens at 7 a.m. each morning. For more information, call Jane Sullivan at 360-560-0608.


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