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Mountain Home Magazine

More Fun Than a Log Birl Full of Monkeys

Jul 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By Anne Lugg Alexander

Situated on Route 6, thirty miles due west of Wellsboro and eleven miles east of Coudersport, a rustic campus holds a yearly celebration of wood hick culture. Every July at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum (5660 Route 6), the scent of sweet wintergreen from the birch oil still mingles in the air with biscuits fresh from a wood-fired oven and bring the 1800s alive. The ring of a hammer on an anvil rises above the din of laughing and cheering spectators. From some hidden hollow, a steam whistle sounds over the singing of the fifty-two-inch head saw in the steam-powered sawmill. This is the annual Bark Peelers’ Festival, where volunteers step into authentic nineteenth-century roles—spinner, blacksmith, camp cook, and laundry washer—to demonstrate life in an authentic lumber camp.

Adventurous visitors wait in line to sign up for the Wood Hick Games, vying for a cash prize and the possibility of taking home the title of Grand Champion Bark Peeler.

The first of the games is the greased pole. As its name implies, contestants straddle a heavily greased pole and attempt to knock their opponent into the pile of fresh sawdust below. Many teenagers sign up for this event, and it elicits the most laughs from onlookers.

Next is log rolling, an activity that tests teamwork as well as upper body strength and speed. A pair of contestants, each with their own peavey (a logging tool used to move logs while on the ground) is timed as they roll a log up and back down a lane.

The crosscut saw challenge requires stamina as pairs try to be the first team to cut their disc off the ends of logs, using the museum’s equipment. The event continues through elimination.

The final challenge draws a crowd to the bank of the log pond, where contestants in the log birling event try to stay on their log the longest. Participants from high school age to retirement age are heckled and cheered as they lock eyes across the rotating log, each trying to read the body language of the other in an attempt to be the last to succumb to gravity and a humbling immersion.

Younger visitors pick out frogs for the frog jumping contest and wait eagerly as the eight-foot-long log cake is cut and shared with guests. Some may sign up for the kids’ sunflower seed spitting contest.

There is even a beard and moustache competition with four categories for those whose impressive facial hair needs to be shared with the world.

The 2024 festival is Saturday, July 6, and Sunday, July 7, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., both days. For more information, go to the events tab at, find the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum on Facebook, or call (814) 435-2652.

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