Paul Bunyon Days on Labor Day weekend in Fort Bragg is a rollicking tradition that began in the rough and tumble lumberjack days of 1939. This year’s action-packed event September 2-5 features something for absolutely everyone in the family, including kids, pets, adults, and ‘old-timers’. This year’s theme, “Back to the Wild, Wild West with Paul and Babe” promises to honor the yearly tradition of a “lumber-jack rowdy good time!”
Friday Tour and Gem Show
On Friday at 3:00 p.m. you can join Paul Bunyan himself along with the Native Daughters of the Golden West for a walking tour of Fort Bragg featuring nine different locations and 26 historical points of interest, or check out the log rolling contest at the CV Starr Community Center pool at 4:00. Beginning on Friday evening and continuing through the weekend, the Gem and Mineral Show at Town Hall on the corner of Main and Laurel is a leisurely activity perfect for “just browsing” or purchasing a choice lapidary souvenir.
Highlights on Saturday include a 10 a.m. Tricycle Race for kids up to age six and a Kiddie Parade at 11:30, with kids from babyhood to twelve sporting costumes, dressed up as a favorite book character, walking a dog, shepherding a goat, pulling a wagon, or riding a tricycle or bike. You never know what you’ll see in this kid-centric event, and you know that parents and spectators on the sidelines are having as much fun as the kids!
Our new Noyo Center for Marine Science will offer fun activities for kids on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the “Crows Nest” on the northern end of the South Coast trail, or stop by the Model Train display near the Skunk train for a miniaturized recreation of a lumber mill, logging camp, historic town, pier, bridges, and trestles. The logging railroad days of yore come alive!
The annual Horseshoe Tournament starts at 9:00 a.m at Todds Point, and it’s definitely a “throwback” to earlier times. Bring your own horseshoes for double and singles games, or sling some provided by the organizers. The Classic Car Show from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m features all kinds of lovingly restored, classy rides. Whether you like fins, hot rods, or farm trucks, you’re sure to spot your favorites, and car owners love to talk about their entries, so you can learn a lot at this event as you fondly remember cruising the highways “back in the day.”
The Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday and Sunday at the CV Starr Community Center is a good place to start your Christmas shopping early—literally dozens of booths featuring unique handcrafted items of all kinds line the venue.
Also at CV Starr Center is the riotous Ugly Dog Contest where canine aficionados of every age gather as their pets take center stage. Imagine more than 100 dogs, accompanied by proud owners, vying for kudos (and prize ribbons) for Smallest, Largest, Prettiest, Best-Dressed, Owner Look-alike, Best Frisbee and the coveted “Best in Show.”’
For a peaceful way to start your day on Saturday, the Bird Walk at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden led by local birder Dave Jensen takes you to the flower garden, through the native forest, and out to the coastal headlands. The pace of the walk is designed for beginning birders, but people with all levels of experience are welcome. If you’re a book lover, you can gather books by the dozens on Saturday and Sunday at the annual Fort Bragg Library Book Sale. You’ll go home with bags of books at rock bottom prices and benefit the library throughout the year. Open Studios on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m offers the chance to take a peek inside the artist studios of 15 Fort Bragg artists, who will share their secrets and inspirations.
Fun for Foodies
If you long for the days of homemade pies cooling on the windowsill, you don’t have to go far. The Presbyterian “church ladies” bake 300 pies and sell the mouth-watering confections at the church. Arrive promptly at 10 a.m. to choose your favorites, as all of the pies are gone by noon. The Hot Dog Eating Contest takes only 5 minutes, but boy can the contestants down those dogs! On Sunday morning, a traditional logger breakfast of ham, eggs, hash browns and golden flapjacks await at The Fort Bragg Grange. It’s rumored you may even rub elbows with Paul Bunyon himself.
Saturday Evening Entertainment
The Fort Bragg Footlighters “Gas Light Gayeties “ theater troupe hails back to 1948 and celebrates the spirit of the 1890s when Fort Bragg was a booming logging and fishing town and nightlife flourished. Performances are Saturday and Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. The “Spirit of America” concert at the Presbyterian church starts at 7:00 p.m., or put on your dancing shoes and head out to the Fireman’s Ball at Pentecost Hall.
Sunday Logging Show
Show starts at noon and this exciting event on Todd’s Point features the nearly lost arts of axe-throwing, chainsaw bucking, hand chopping, pole climbing, and more. Both men and women compete for $7,000 in prizes and more than a thousand people gather round to watch! The Belle of the Redwoods is crowned during the logging show on Sunday and rides with her court in Monday’s Labor Day parade. The Forestland Expo explores the dramatic changes happening in today’s logging industry and highlights what timber companies and forest related organizations are doing to acquire, protect, restore and manage forestland resources for the long-term benefit of local communities and the environment.
Labor Day Parade
The not-to-be missed Labor Day Parade at 11:00 a.m. is a slice of home-town Americana that celebrates Paul, Babe, and the history of Fort Bragg with floats, costumes, color, and excitement. The sidewalks and curbs are lined with spectators enjoying the fun. Right after the parade is the annual Labor Day Barbeque, where you’ll be able to savor delicious, locally raised and hand selected cuts of beef, pork, and lamb served with plenty of beans, coleslaw and bread. Stay for kids entertainment and live music before heading back home. It’s a great way to end a weekend filled with happy memories. You’ll be glad you came! For tickets to events and a complete schedule of times and venues, click here.