Long before Squamish was a booming tourist destination and outdoor recreation mecca, it was a little town that was home to families that worked in the forestry industry. Logging is still an important industry here, and every year, the whole community gets together for a long weekend celebration of its heritage during the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival (July 28 to Aug. 1).
“This year, we’re celebrating our 59th anniversary,” said event spokesperson Amy Fast.
The long-running festival features live music, art, children’s activities, a parade, wacky bed races, two world-class loggers sports shows with competitors from around the world, and a lot more.
“Planning is well underway, and our committee is looking at adding some new events this year… we’re excited to add some new elements to the festival,” said Fast. “Of course we’ll still have all the favourites: bed races, parade, pancake breakfast, etc. Our 10-kilometre run has been modified and will now be an eight-kilometre run. It is an out and back, fast, flat course with categories for runners, wheelchair athletes, plus stroller and team divisions. It is the 10th race in the Lifestages Lower Mainland Road Race Series and sanctioned by BC Athletics.
“I think people enjoy the spectacle of the Loggers Sports competitions.”
“We are also planning a lumberjack skills course called ‘Timber Training’ which will run from mid-May to June. It will be a four-part series for adults to learn some basic lumberjack skills.”
She said it’s easy to see why all the axe-throwing, tree-climbing and log-rolling have remained popular throughout the years.
“I think people enjoy the spectacle of the Loggers Sports competitions; it’s a different type of sporting event than you typically see, and there are only so many places you can go to see them,” she said. “Plus, our festival is affordable and family-friendly. Most of our events are free to attend, meaning you can enjoy an entire five-day long weekend of entertainment with your family for around $100… depending on how hungry and thirsty you are!
“Also, the history of the event really resonates with the locals. This year we are celebrating 59 years of Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival. I think to a lot of the locals this event is something they grew up with, and it just goes without saying that they always spend their BC Day Long Weekend in town taking in and/or being a part of the historic event.”
And the community doesn’t just enjoy the show every year: They help put it on, as well.
“Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival is put on entirely by volunteers,” said Fast. “The most important thing about the Squamish Days Festival is that it is a major fundraiser for six service clubs and groups in Squamish: the Squamish Rotary, the Squamish Elks, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 4, Squamish Equestrian Club and the Squamish Curling Club. These groups volunteer and help organize different aspects of the festival weekend and in return each get a share of the profits. So when people come out to our events, buy tickets, sponsor, or enjoy some tasty snacks at the loggers sports grounds, they are helping these clubs raise money for their local initiatives.”
With so much fun and excitement over five days, Fast said it’s hard to single out what she’s most excited for during the festival.
“I always find it hard to pick a favourite part of the Squamish Days weekend – we have quite a lot going on over five days,” she said. “But if I have to pick, I’d say seeing all the people in the crowd at any of the events enjoying themselves, laughing, cheering, taking part in the fun. It’s such a great community event, which is why I love volunteering each year. I also love seeing all the familiar faces at the volunteer wrap-up party; we’re like a family and even though there are lots of new volunteers, so many people return year after year to take part.”
To learn more about the festival and its events, go to squamishdays.ca.