ESCANABA - The 68th Annual Lake States Logging Congress & Equipment Expo is well underway at the U.P. State Fairgrounds and exhibitors and visitors are busy enjoying the celebration of the timber industry.
"The weather's beautiful, that brings everybody out, and everybody is in pretty good spirits," said Henry Schienebeck, executive director of Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, which presents the event.
Schienebeck noted that while the timber industry has experienced rough patches, loggers and truckers have started to work together and recognize the importance of the different roles each group has in the industry.
The U.P. State Fairgrounds were bustling Friday as the 68th Annual Lake States Logging Congress and Equipment Expo took place. Above, State Sen. Tom Casperson participates in the Prentice Loader Championship which benefits Log a Load for Kids. (Daily Press photo by Holly Richer)
"People are really working together a lot differently and better than what it used to (be)," he said. "It used to be 'oh I'm a logger, I'm the one that counts' or 'I'm a trucker, I'm the most important guy.'"
Both seasoned and new exhibitors filled booths throughout the U.P. State Fairgrounds' Ruth Butler Building and the fairgrounds' northern most parking lot.
"I've been here for about an hour, but so far it's been OK," said John Haas, a first-time exhibitor representing TimberPro logging encoders. "It's a good opportunity to get out there and meet the end user of the product."
While it was Haas' first Logging Congress, he came with a veteran Logging Congress exhibitor.
"I've been here for five years now," said Jordan Schrubble, also of TimberPro logging encoders.
"Apparently there's more exhibitors indoors than there has been. We've never been outdoors like this before and I don't think there's ever been an outdoor area."
There are more changes to this year's show than just an increased level of comradery and outdoor booths.
"I think the theme for this year, so far, has kind of been change," said GLTPA Event Coordinator Aaron Nieman. "We changed the show hours, so instead of doing a half-day thursday, a half-day Saturday, we're doing a whole day Friday and a whole day Saturday."
The GLTPA decided to extend the hours on Saturday to allow more people to participate in the Lake States Logging Congress & Equipment Expo than in previous years.
"We're hoping that extending the show hours on Saturday will help bring in more local folks, community involvement, and then of course the hardworking guys in the woods that work 70 hours a week," said Nieman. "To be here on Saturday, that really doesn't disrupt their work week."
The Lake States Logging Congress & Equipment Expo will open at 8 a.m. Saturday and will close for the year at 4 p.m.
While the addition of longer hours on Saturday may give members of the timber industry community more opportunities to participate in the event, there was no shortage of people at the President's Kickoff Event held Thursday night in the Miracle of Life building. More than 600 members of the logging community gathered for the event.