Log rolling to return to ‘FITS’

Duane Hicks

With Canada Day only 23 days away, local residents can start getting fired up about this year’s celebrations.
Fun in the Sun committee chair Cynthia Donald said yesterday that plans are shaping up nicely, with something new this year being “key log rolling,” which features 65-pound synthetic logs.
The “key logs” are easy to transport and when you get them to the lake, you fill them with water and they float, spin, and react just like traditional cedar wood logs on the water’s surface.
Participants will be able to get a taste of log rolling for a fee of $5 for 15 minutes, noted Donald.
It might sound pricey, she conceded, but then explained this fee includes instruction as to how to log roll, as well an opportunity to log roll against an opponent.
Donald said she came up with the idea when she was surfing the Internet. She spotted “key log rolling” and saw it was a new spin on the traditional lumberjack sport also known as “birling.”
“I thought, ‘This would be really cool,'” noted Donald. “But the price of it was quite high.
“So I reached out to the Howarths.”
Fortunately, Jill Howarth is one of the FITS committee members and her dad, Mark, who once competed at the world birling championships, agreed to sponsor a key log.
“When Cynthia Donald contacted our family wondering if we had ever heard of a key log, right away my daughter, Jill, who was familiar with this type of artificial log, wanted to get involved,” Mark Howarth noted yesterday.
“Years ago, myself, Ray Cousineau, and family taught log rolling lessons at the Fort Frances pool in the winter and at Pither’s Point in the summer on B.C. red cedar logs, which ended up having to be stopped due to wood chips clogging the filter system,” he recalled.
Howarth noted the key log is very popular at YMCAs across the U.S., where people can take lessons and practice log rolling year-round.
“I did not hesitate when asked if I would donate towards the purchase of a key log for ‘Fun in the Sun,'” added Howarth, who said that in the late ’70s and early ’80s, log rolling competitions held during Fun in the Sun drew competitors from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Donald noted log rolling is making a comeback south of the border, and hopes the July 1 activity here will spark interest in a new generation.
“Hopefully, we can start a program here,” she remarked, suggesting a good name for a new group might be the “Rainy Lake Rollers.”
“I would definitely like to see log rolling make a comeback our area as it is a great way for children to exercise, make new friends, and participate in competitions all over,” agreed Howarth.
“I competed at the World Lumberjack Championships for 40 years and coached my children, Scott and Jill, as well as family friends, Charlie and Doug Goodmundson, at Bear Pass,” he added, noting the four competed at the world championships–amateur through to pro.
“Log rolling is an excellent cardio workout and the key log will allow people of all ages to try it out on July 1st,” said Howarth.
Aside from key log rolling, the lineup of activities for Canada Day continues to grow.
The day will begin with a kids’ fun run starting at the Point Park campground office around 9:30 a.m.
This will be followed by the parade which will start at the Sorting Gap Marina at 11 a.m., proceed along Front Street, and end at the Legion.
Much more fun will begin at the Point starting at 1 p.m., when there will be family games, inflatables, and a sandcastle-building contest, as well as a classic automobile display by the local International Early Iron Car Club.
Sunset Water Sports also will be at the Point, teaching various water sports (primarily wakeboarding and kneeboarding).
They also will be doing dryland activities on the beach and offering tube rides for a fee, and are hoping to have a “pro” rider put on a show.
There also will be a stage set up there for a mini-king and queen contest, organized by Melissa Gushulak, as well as musical entertainment, organized by Diane Maxey.
“We’ve got a couple of acts already,” noted Donald, adding anyone who would like to sing, play music, or otherwise entertain the public during the afternoon of July 1 must contact Maxey at 274-7309.
Currently, seven food vendors are lined up to be at the Point but there’s room for a few more.
Any food vendors who would like to sign up should contact Donald at 274-3384.
Something else new this year is that the Point campground office will serve as a sort of hub, where people can ask questions or pay for activities.
The Riverside Foundation for Health Care also will be at the Point that day selling tickets for its Canada Day cash lottery.
Winners will be drawn starting at 3 p.m.
The daytime activities will wrap up around 6 p.m., at which time volunteers will start teardown and clean-up at the Point.
The public either can go home or pop over to La Place Rendez-Vous, where a Canada Day social will be held from 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
The age of majority event will feature door prizes, a photo booth, Wyatt McLeod as the DJ, and more.
Tickets cost $5 in advance and $10 at the door.
Then Canada’s 150th birthday celebration will be capped off with fireworks at 10 p.m.
Donald said the FITS committee was “pleasantly surprised” with the turnout last July, and hopes the public comes out and participates again this year for “Canada 150.”
Volunteers wanted
While plans are shaping up nicely, Donald said she would love to see more volunteers to donate even a little of their time on July 1 at Point Park.
“If somebody could just spend an hour watching the kids’ games or at the inflatables, there would no shortage of manpower,” she noted.
Donald added she has been trying to recruit Fort High students who need their volunteer hours to graduate, noting this is a perfect way to get them.
Anyone interested can call Donald at 274-3384 or find her on Facebook at “Fun In The Sun Committee.”
The FITS committee also continues to raise funds.
Not only are there donation boxes set up at locations around town, but it will be selling freshly-made mini-doughnuts during “Market Thursdays” on Scott Street and again on “Mall Day” (June 29), where they also will have scratch cards and coupon books for sale.
These are Bingo-type cards where anyone can scratch off two spots on the grid and then pay whatever amounts are revealed.
These amounts will range from 50 cents to $3.
In return, those who donate will get a discount sheet with coupons from local businesses worth more than $50 in savings.
Donald said the FITS committee has been notified it will be getting money from the Moffat Family Fund this summer, but won’t know how much until a later date.
Several local individuals also have donated to the event “out of the goodness of their heart” and their sense of patriotism, she added.