Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

River Street goes to the woods

Marcus White
Posted 6/13/19

COOK - Whether it’s in the woods or on the street, Adam LaSalle feels at home with a chainsaw in his hands. The New York native has brought his lumberjack skills cross-country working and …

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River Street goes to the woods

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COOK - Whether it’s in the woods or on the street, Adam LaSalle feels at home with a chainsaw in his hands. The New York native has brought his lumberjack skills cross-country working and performing in the woods around Cook, including at this year’s Timber Days celebration.

LaSalle and his fellow lumberjacks displayed their expertise during two live demonstrations on River Street on Saturday afternoon.

“We go through cutting down timber in the woods, then cutting it into smaller pieces,” LaSalle said. We add some modern flare with equipment. We don’t wear flannel or suspenders.”

Even with the high temperatures this weekend, LaSalle said the performers treated the shows as they would any other competition.

“Physically, the folks competing spend a lot of years perfecting their craft and their training,” he said. “Even though there was nothing on the line this weekend, the events are still taken seriously.”

To keep both the lumberjacks and their curious onlookers safe, a number of precautions are taken to ensure no one loses a foot.

“Axes are sharp,” LaSalle said. “One of the biggest safety measures is knowing how to use sharp tools. Chain mesh socks and leg protection provide safety if there was an accident. It wouldn’t sever your foot or your toe. You’ll just be beat up and bruised.”

For the spectators, a safety buffer helps to prevent flying wood chips from injuring those watching the lumberjacks.

LaSalle, who brings his skills to a job at the U.S. Forest Service, said the shows give exposure not only to the sport, but to the timber industry in the region.

“The first step in recruiting is exposure,” he said. “I knew about this growing up from going to festivals in New York. I encourage people to come up to the lumberjacks at the end of each show. It’s not easy, but it can be really fun and rewarding.”

Both shows attracted a crowd on River Street, with several youngsters taking a particular interest in the performers.

Escape for a cause

Across the street at the public library on Friday, people willingly trapped themselves in the library for a good cause.

For the second time this year, volunteers turned rows of books at the Cook Library into an escape room, where people follow clues to free themselves.

In the scenario devised on Friday evening, participants were locked in the library’s meeting room as criminals wanting to break free and clear their names.

Two keys were hidden, one in the meeting room, and another among the stacks of books.

Participants were given a flash drive they needed to wipe clear of all data before they could leave as well.

“They’re stuck in here forever if they can’t get out within 20 minutes,” librarian Crystal Phillips joked before the event.

Volunteers posing as prison guards and data specialists created the illusion.

In order to participate, the volunteers collected suggested donations of $5 per person, with the final tally to be split between the library and the Cook Food Shelf.

Money raised totaled $95.

Other events over the weekend included a vendor fair in the city park along with live music. Stores along River Street also held special weekend sales.

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