Ready, Set, Paul Bunyan Days!

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A new twist to this year’s Paul Bunyan Days fireworks display is being kept secret and will not be revealed until the show.

This year’s theme, Circus Circus, promises to be the “best ever.”

Dennis Wheeler works on setting up his oriental food booth at city park Tuesday before the start of the Paul Bunyan Days celebration.

Dennis Wheeler works on setting up his oriental food booth at city park Tuesday before the start of the Paul Bunyan Days celebration.

Several thousand people are expected to attend this most popular attraction of the weekend Sunday night at the football field in city park.

The event, which started as a picnic organized by the owners of the Gem State Club in the 1940s, grew quickly and had to be moved to city park. The Booster Club took over sponsorship of the event renaming it The Paul Bunyan Barbecue and Lumberjack Days in 1950. By 1953, 57 local businesses, 13 of which were bars, were contributing to the two-day event which drew a crowd of about 3,000.

It has more than doubled in size since then with four days of celebration that draw big crowds throughout the weekend.

This year’s Paul Bunyan Days weekend promises a full schedule of events and attractions including many of the regular favorites like the carnival, loggers’ competition, pool events, quilt show, parade and The Blue Ox (Idaho’s biggest topless bar).

The carnival, which opens Friday at 5 p.m. and wraps up Monday evening, will feature a variety of food and vendors, local community booths and plenty of rides. The Blue Ox is located on the tennis courts in city park and features games, live music and plenty of beer throughout the weekend.

Pool events take place Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Adults, youth and children will compete in various traditional events such as log burling, canoe jousting, the tightrope walk, etc. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and competition begins at noon. Parents must be present for youth and children to participate.

The 5K Karen Ebert Memorial Fun Run/Walk begins Saturday morning. Registration is available beginning at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of the high school gymnasium. The race begins at 9 a.m. Participants will run along the St. Joe River before returning to the school.

This year’s quilt show, themed “Timeless Treasures,” features more than 150 quilted items on display in the gymnasium at Heyburn Elementary. The show, organized by the Valley Piecemakers quilting club, will span two days. One club member was chosen to be the show’s featured quilter and will display several of her own pieces in a special booth this year. Tickets for the club’s annual raffle quilt will also be available at the event.

Grand Marshals Jack and Lorna Botts will lead the Labor Day parade down Main Avenue at 10 a.m. Monday. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at Ken’s Custom Body Shop and the main thoroughfare will be closed to traffic for much of the morning.

In celebration of the city’s centennial the parade doubled in size last year. Organizer Mark Todd expects a good turnout again this year. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in various categories. Spectators are encouraged to line the sidewalks with their families and gather candy thrown from parade participants.

The logging events pit amateurs against each other in various tests of skill involving everyday tasks of a logger on the job including an ax throw, crosscut, power saw, choker set, pole climb and ma and pa bed race. The overall winners get bragging rights, titles of top Logger and Loggerette and $50 cash. Entry is free.

In addition to traditional events, the St. Maries adult co-ed softball league will sponsor the Cory Stapleton Memorial Tournament Saturday and Sunday. Games will be played mush-ball style, meaning that all male teammates will hit a mushy ball, at the fields in Milltown.

Event booklets are available at various businesses around town and a booth is available at city park from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the festivities for additional information on the weekend’s events. Event apparel, including T-shirts and sweatshirts are also available for purchase at the information booth.

It takes a committee of between 20 and 40 volunteers to organize and run the event each year. An auction is held on Sunday morning in city park during the event each year to raise money to support both the following year’s event and to help fund various community projects and improvements.

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