By Amy Nile Herald Writer
SULTAN — There’s a shindig about to go down here.
This town of just under 5,000 people is expected to swell to at least 20,000 this weekend for the 31st annual festival that celebrates the area’s rich logging history. The Sultan Shindig kicks off Friday and continues through Sunday.
Roy Sartaine, of Gold Bar, has been voted this year’s logging grand marshal.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Debbie Copple, director of the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Many of the past marshals have had the title included in their obituaries, she said. Sartaine, 72, is having fun with his newfound fame. He’s been autographing copies of the event guide for people at the senior center and the VFW.
“I’m just happier than heck this happened,” Sartaine said. “Half the guys who voted for me I fired.”
He served in the U.S. Navy before returning to the area in 1963 to work for several logging outfits. He also ran his own timber-cutting company, alongside his wife, Marlyn, for nearly 40 years.
“I always thought there’s nothing prettier than a stump,” he said. “When you see a stump, you know you made money.”
Sartaine said his four children are planning to come home with their families for the festival. It kicks off with a carnival, a street fair, live music and a car show. Car owners are set to vie for the top spot in several unusual categories, such as loudest stereo, noisiest pipes and best flames. The competitor who generates the most noise from the crowd wins.
“It’s a goofy one,” Copple said. “Everyone has a good time.”
The event picks up again at 10 a.m. Saturday with the costumed children’s parade on Main Street. It’s followed by the grand parade, organized by Laura Koenig, of Sultan.
The classic car show will be held after the parade in a new location at the east end of Main Street. There’s also a show-and-shine event for all-terrain vehicles, such as quads, dirt bikes and Jeeps. Copple said organizers wanted to highlight that it is legal to ride ATVs in Sultan.
“It’s a big deal,” she said. “It has the potential to be a really big tourism draw for the county if we can all work together.”
The logging contest is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on First Street under the spar poles.
Unlike most logging shows, Copple said, Sultan’s is open to any competitor.
“It’s all about promoting the culture and history of the logging world,” she said.
There are traditional events, including crosscut sawing, axe throwing and speed climbing.
“It’s a working man’s speed climb,” Copple said.
That means competitors can’t wear toe spurs as they skinny up the 90-foot pole. Copple said those came about to allow for faster climbing in contests. In Sultan, loggers have to compete with heel spurs.
“Our people felt it was important to keep it more like it is in the woods,” she said.
Copple, who has helped organize the Shindig since 1986, tried speed climbing a few years ago.
“In my case, it wasn’t speed climbing. It was just climbing,” she said.
She made it about 10 feet before she started shaking and had to come down.
“And that was with people helping me,” she said.
Sultan’s contest also includes modern events that Copple said more accurately reflect the skills of today’s loggers.
The pole buck is designed for loggers to show off their prowess with a contemporary chainsaw. They are timed as they run up a log that is set in a teeter-totter-like fashion. They make a precise cut and come down.
There’s also an event for truck drivers. The challenge is to see who can wrap logs onto a rig the fastest.
After Saturday’s show, fireworks are set to go off to live music at dusk. Local churches are putting together a community worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday.
While out-of-towners are welcome at the Shindig, Copple said, most of the people have strong ties to Sultan.
“It’s all for and about the community,” she said. “Shindig is just another word for party. This is Sultan’s Shindig party.”
For a complete schedule of events, go to skyvalleychamber.com
Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.