Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

This story has been updated with additional details and photos from Sunday’s events.

Eddie Petrie says he’s worked as a local miner for 17 years and been competing at Juneau Gold Rush Days for a bit more than that, but his hasty and tenacious shoveling of gravel into a mine cart Saturday bears little resemblance to his job these days. Also, the blond wig sticking out of the back pocket of his jeans isn’t part of his standard work equipment.

“I can’t grow my own anymore, so it’s something I have to wear around the kids,” he said after wearing it while seeing if any competitors could match his skills in the men’s hand mucking competition Saturday at Savikko Park.

It turns out none could as the 39.6 seconds it took Petrie to fill the cart was more than five seconds faster than his nearest competitor. But, during a brief interview before the final rankings were announced, he said he wasn’t paying particularly close attention to the outcome of that event or the other mining competitions during the day.

“I don’t pay attention until Sunday,” he said. That’s when the awards ceremony took place — after a day of logging competitions and the final miners versus loggers tug-of-war.

Youths toss bean bags at targets in the games area of Juneau Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Youths toss bean bags at targets in the games area of Juneau Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

While Petrie is a regular in the logging events as well, he said “it’s anyone’s game” when asked to assess his skill compared to the competition. While Juneau and other parts of Southeast Alaska still have a significant working mining population, timber industry employment is a shadow of its peak historical era.

Another longtime miner attempting his hand — so to speak — at logging events on Sunday was Jesse Stringer, who was toppled in head-to-head competition against Jeff Trego during the vertical chopping competition that replicates the cutting down of a tree with a hand axe. But as with most of the weekend’s contestants Stringer said he wasn’t paying too much attention to the rankings.

“I don’t really care, to tell the truth,” he said. “I’m just happy to get the log.”

At the same time a few dozen yards away women were taking their turns climbing, rather than felling, a very tall log in the speed climbing competition. As with the chopping competition, the competition times for reaching a designated spot high up varied widely, but veteran and new climbers alike were just happy when they returned safely to the ground.

“I just listened to some good advice from some good friends,” said Kolbe Rose, who moved to Juneau from Ketchikan about a month ago and was participating in the event for the first time.

Organizers estimate about 5,000 people come for at least some portion of the two-day now in its 32nd year. In addition to the competitions there is live music afternoons, food and other vendors in a large tent, children’s games, gold panning, and other activities.

For most attendees the weekend is more about leisure than working up a sweat in the competitions, although intrepid newcomers can and do try their hand at driving spikes into wood beams, throwing axes at targets and drilling holes into concrete. Jordynn Fulmer, 17, waiting with her family in a long line for cotton candy, said one year she entered a power sawing competition with her uncle.

How’d she do?

“Not well, because I was 8,” she said.

Alivia Workman, 5, and Aleijah Fulmer, 5, shift through sand looking for beads in the vendors tent during Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Alivia Workman, 5, and Aleijah Fulmer, 5, shift through sand looking for beads in the vendors tent during Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Andriea Workman, watching her daughter Alivia, 5, “pan” for beads by sifting through a sandbox in the vendors tent, said she’s been coming to Gold Rush Days for about 30 years as the locations and some of the weekend’s activities have changed. She said she’s always come as a spectator for the logging and mining competitions, with one memorable exception.

“I did the log rolling in the pond one year,” she said, estimating it took place about 20 or so years ago as a teenager. She said she doesn’t remember the outcome of the competition, but “I do remember being wet and being happy, so that was a happy memory.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

People try their luck at panning for gold during Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People try their luck at panning for gold during Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A woman nears the designated point during the speed climbing competition at Juneau Gold Rush Days on Sunday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A woman nears the designated point during the speed climbing competition at Juneau Gold Rush Days on Sunday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Youths compete in a choker setter race during Juneau Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Youths compete in a choker setter race during Juneau Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Jesse Stringer, foreground, and Jeff Trego compete in the men’s vertical chopping competition during Juneau Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Jesse Stringer, foreground, and Jeff Trego compete in the men’s vertical chopping competition during Juneau Gold Rush Days at Savikko Park on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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