Changes are coming to Timber Days

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(File photo/JUDD WILSON) The parade route for this year's Timber Days in Priest River will change direction, heading east down High Street. The logging competition will see change as well, as it will be held at Bonner Park West this year.

PRIEST RIVER — Timber Days is a celebration of Priest River's history as a logging town, dating back to the early 1900s with an annual log drive on the Priest River. 

"It actually started when the logging crews came down the river with the logs in the spring," said Chad Summers, Priest River Chamber of Commerce board member, adding it was historically held at the Mudhole, where the Priest River meets the Pend Oreille. "... When all the crews got there, the families met them. They had been gone for a couple weeks in some terrifying situations — high waters, floods ... so they would all meet at the Mudhole and have a celebration."

They would have competitions and a big picnic, he said, and while much has changed over the years, the celebration continues to be held each year.

According to Priest River history on the city's website, the log drive was held from 1901 through 1949. The log drive paved the way for the annual Logging Celebration, which lasted until 1980 before giving way to what is now Timber Days, held on the last Saturday of July each year in downtown Priest River.

After discussing Timber Days with some of the community members, the chamber officials decided it was time to change up some of the Timber Days events, Summers said, including the parade route and logging competition.

"Back in the day, the parade used to go the direction we are moving it to this year," Summers said. "I don't know the story behind why it was changed to go the direction that it has been going for, I know of, at least 19 years, but we've turned it around."

Rather than heading west this year, the parade will start at Priest River City Park and head east along High Street through historic downtown, Summers Said. Going the other direction, he said, was difficult for the log trucks, fire trucks and other large vehicles to traverse slowly up the hill on the west end of High Street.

The logging competition is also returning to its origins. While it has been held across from City Park for several years, this year is will move back to Bonner Park West on the Pend Oreille River, Summers said. The logging competition includes pole climbing, log burling, crosscut, stock saw, a log walk and an axe throw. There will not be any "pros" at the competition this year, he said. It will be all local teams, and participants don't necessarily need to be loggers to compete.

"We encourage people who want to put together a team to do it, to come out and compete," Summers said. "That's awesome — that's what we would love to see more of."

Events kick off Friday night with the Hot Neon Nights Car Cruise, sponsored by the Asphalt Angels, with live music downtown at 7 p.m.

Saturday's events begin at 7 a.m. with a huckleberry pancake breakfast and check in for the annual Run for the Berries. The run begins at 8 a.m. at 49 Washington Ave., and breakfast will be served until 11 a.m. Pre-registration for the race is available at Registration opens for the Show N Shine Car Show at Priest River Junior High at 8 a.m., and food and vendor booths open at that time as well.

The annual Timber Days Parade begins at 11 a.m. on High Street, and the logging competition begins at 1 p.m. at Bonner Park West. Events will come to a close with the Big Back-In lawnmower races at 4 p.m. on Main Street.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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