Lumberjack Festevent grows in second year

Published 5:43 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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The second annual Lumberjack Festevent successfully built on the foundation established by the inaugural event in 2022, drawing more people this year to downtown Franklin on Saturday, May 6, to celebrate the impact that lumber and the logging industry has had on the area.

“It was an event that brought in a nice number of people,” said Liz Burgess, of The Franklin Experience, the nonprofit organization that orchestrated the festevent. “It was a larger crowd than the first Lumberjack Festevent, which was great to see.”

She noted that it would be difficult to guess how many people attended the event given that it took place on a six-acre lot with no one entrance location, but she said that if TFE had to provide a ballpark estimate, perhaps at least 1,000 people came out, with the busiest time of the event coming between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The festival started at 9 a.m. and ran until 5 p.m.

“Everyone was satisfied, vendors and participants, with the numbers that came through,” Burgess said. “Almost everyone with whom we spoke was very interested in coming back in 2024.”

Attendees came from different parts of Hampton Roads and beyond, and Burgess noted that those who came as part of the venue were from all over, including Franklin, Southampton County, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana and Florida.

Burgess said, “We, The Franklin Experience, were pleased with the entertainment — Paul Bunyan LumberJack Show, the chainsaw carver Corey Lancaster and the VA Lumberjack Championship Competition; the activities — Tomahawk Toss with their ax throwing, the Colossal Cornhole Board, (Franklin Department of) Parks and Rec’s kids activities; the artisan and food vendors; and the history of logging area that all made up this unique event.”


She noted that events that seemed to be of great interest were the VA Lumberjack Championship Competition and the Paul Bunyan LumberJack Show. 

“There was a steady line at the Colossal Cornhole Board, with people willing to take the challenge of using a slingshot to get the bean bag in the hole,” she said, referencing the 12-foot-by-24-foot cornhole board built by Countryside Exteriors. “But each specific area set up for the event drew in people since there was a wide range of venues to experience.”


People who were looking to learn about the history of logging were able to see how that industry started and grew through the visual images on display at the festevent, along with the presence of actual logging equipment that was once used, Burgess said. The history lessons came courtesy of the Southampton Agriculture & Forestry Museum.

Burgess also explained that displays from Virginia Tech Extension Agent Neil Clark, as well as the Department of Forestry, showed the importance of logging and forests. The progression of the industry through the development of sustainable wood pellets was on display thanks to Enviva.


“For those wanting to purchase products or to see how products were made, the (festevent) vendors offered an array of unique and beautifully constructed items,” Burgess said. “Tidewater Turners demonstrated their workmanship using their lathes on-site, as did Benson Alpaca Meadows, using equipment to show the process of turning alpaca hair into material.”

She said vendors such as Decoys By DLJ, From Food to Wood, and Walking Sticks created items that were practical or that would make excellent gifts, and an eclectic mix of other vendors provided other items of interest.

There was also a range of food available for purchase from vendors including Cakes & Concessions/The Purple Bus, Cast Iron Catering, C-MO Snaxs and The Bakery Bus, Burgess noted.


The festevent was preceded Friday evening, May 5, by a Lumberjack Beer and Band event at Barrett’s Landing that organizers also felt positive about.

“It was a beautiful night, the band was great,” Burgess said. “We appreciated those who came out to hear The Blackwater Band, especially since it was Cinco de Mayo.”


During the Monday, May 8, Franklin City Council meeting, City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt made a point to thank those who attended both weekend events.

“The weekend went very smoothly,” she said. “It was beautiful weather for the concert and the event on Saturday.”

Franklin Mayor Robert “Bobby” Cutchins said, “I’d just like to give a shout out to The Franklin Experience and Liz Burgess on the job they did — it was phenomenal. It was a great event, great day. I think a lot of people enjoyed that.”

“Certainly takes a large effort to make something like that happen,” Jarratt said.

Ward 1 Councilman Mark R. Kitchen added, “Not only Liz, but Brenda Peterson had a big role.”

Ward 3 Councilman Gregory McLemore said, “Ms. Peterson had the idea for that huge cornhole (board). That was really cool. I’m going to see if we can get that (for Franklin’s) Juneteenth event also.”