Although some might say it’s a stretch to write about a lumberjack competition for a newspaper’s sports section, watching the various events leads one to conclude that the participants could indeed be called athletes.

For a few years, the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s lineup of events included a lumberjack exhibition. Then last year, Philomath native Cody Labahn organized the first professional competition.

“They’ve got real money on the table,” Philomath Frolic & Rodeo president Chris Workman said. “We spend about $4,000 every year on that and I think about $3,000 of it goes directly to prize money. The rest goes for logs and equipment.”

The lumberjack competition seems to fit right in with Philomath, a community that has a logging past, present and future. Frolic organizers estimate that last year’s show attracted at least 200 people to the event. Bleachers were brought in to accommodate folks who wanted to sit down (the entire show can last three-plus hours).

“It’s a fun show. They have one of the judges on the microphone the whole time explaining things and talking it through,” Workman said. “Even if you’ve never been to a lumberjack competition before, you don’t feel like you’re lost and don’t know what’s going on. They talk a little bit in between events, they introduce each other they tell a little bit about them like where they’re from. It’s a good, kind of intimate show.”

With that more intimate approach, the fans can decide on their favorites and root them on.

“They compete against each other and so they’ll hype the crowd up and get everybody excited about it,” Workman said. “Then they do the handsaw versus the chainsaw event, takes wagers on who’s going to win, that’s always kinda fun. But they do a really good show for a free show.”

This year’s lumberjack competition will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday. As of last week, there were nine lumberjacks signed up for the professional competition along with seven others that you could designate as novice or intermediate.

5K RUN: Although the event is tentative, people out and about in Philomath early Saturday morning in the hours before the parade might come across runners. Workman said the Frolic & Rodeo is looking at adding a 5-kilometer fun run to next year’s festivities and that a practice session to work out the kinks might materialize this year.

“I’ve talked to a few of the folks that are looking to put that on and they were looking to do it this year and we were just too close to getting all the publicity and promotion stuff out, so we backed away,” Workman said. “I think they may just do a fun run and not register, but just invite people to show up and kinda see how it goes and check the layout of the course and see how that goes. So that may be happening kind of off the books this year.”

The Frolic & Rodeo organizers don’t want to spread themselves too thin but the addition of the 5k run could be well-received. Another popular 5K run that serves as a fundraiser doesn’t occur until October.

Workman said in addition to the 5k run, there may also be a 1k event for younger kids or for those who don’t want to go the longer distance.

Stay tuned to see if it’s added to next year’s lineup.

FALL SPORTS: It’s never too early to start thinking about fall sports, right? Well, even if it is, here’s a glance at each program’s season openers.

In football, the Warriors (2-6 overall, 1-4 in league last year) will be hosting a jamboree on Aug. 24 to give fans a look at the team under new head coach Tony Matta. Philomath will then open the season Aug. 31 at home against Junction City. The conference opener will be Sept. 21 at home against Newport.

Denee Newton’s volleyball squad (19-4, 10-0 last year) appears to have a home endowment match scheduled for Aug. 23 against Crescent Valley. Then after participating in a jamboree Aug. 24 at Sweet Home, the Warriors will host Salem Academy and Cottage Grove in a three-school event on Aug. 30. The Oregon West opener is set for Sept. 4 at home vs. Stayton.

The boys soccer team (6-7-3, 4-5-1 last year) will make its debut under new head coach Dave Ellis on Aug. 23 with a home jamboree. The team’s first actual competition will be Aug. 28 at home against Hidden Valley. The league opener is set for Sept. 4 at Stayton.

The girls soccer team (10-6-2, 5-3-2 last year) will also be part of the Aug. 23 home jamboree and open the regular season Aug. 28 in Grants Pass against Hidden Valley. The home opener is set for Aug. 30 against Gladstone and the conference opener will be Sept. 4 at home against Stayton.

The cross-country teams (girls first, boys tied for second at last year’s district meet) are scheduled to open their season Sept. 6 in Turner at the Cascade-hosted Deedon Invitational. This year’s Paul Mariman Invitational falls on Oct. 6.

For complete fall schedules, see the Scoreboard section.

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