My dad says to me “ you should do a post about the old Timber Town Festival in Downtown Saginaw” I told him I never heard of it, “ you should check into it, back in the 60’s it was a huge event in the summer”. Since I was not alive in the 60’s I went to one of my favorite places in Saginaw, the Hoyt Library, and they pulled out a file full of info on the summer festival.
The Saginaw Jaycees started the festival in 1962 to bring back the nostalgia of Saginaw’s lumbering days. It was held on Ojibway Island in August where a temporary sawmill town was erected. The town even had a steam-operated sawmill set up by a company from St Charles and cut pine logs. Throughout the day you could hear the “ whiiiing” of the spinning circular saw cutting timber from the logs. There were several contests including a best beard, log sawing, ax throwing, pole climbing and canoe races down the Saginaw River. In the mornings a large lumberjack breakfast was served and in the afternoons the Eddy Band would be playing at the band shell. A Timber Town queen was crowned. ( I wonder where they are now) and a parade with floats and marching bands went from downtown to Ojibway Island.
By the mid 60’s the festivities were moved to downtown, I am assuming to bring visitors shopping to the many businesses that sponsored the festival. The canoe races gave way to a raft race and the Bancroft hotel held the breakfast feasts. The festival was changed from August to the beginning of July. I am thinking it was moved with the hopes that the autoworkers would take their families to the festival while they were on their summer break. Instead of staying in Saginaw they wanted to take their family somewhere new and exciting like the newly built Walt Disney World in Florida. As more retail stores and restaurants opened up locations along Bay Road and Tittibasassee road downtown began to struggle and the funding was not there to continue holding the annual event. In 1972, a decade after the first Timber Town was built on Ojibway Island the committee decided this was the last Timber Town Festival held in Saginaw.
Although the Timber Town festival is no longer held there are many wonderful events in Saginaw such as Friday Night Live, The Saginaw Area Fireworks and the WKCQ Country Music Fest. Thank you to everyone who works to put on these events and to the sponsors who support them.
I wish I had more memories to share about the Timber Town Festival, but it was a little before my time. It would really mean a lot to me if you share some of your memories in the comments.
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