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Even the littlest hands will have the chips and sawdust flying in the Rim Country this weekend with the return of the Loggers Sawdust Festival at the Payson Event Center June 5 and 6.

Years ago — 30 or so — down in Gisela, there used to be mud bog races. Using earth-moving equipment, a course was excavated, filled with water and the dirt put back in, creating a massive bog where the mud was hip deep. Then four-wheel drive trucks would be “raced” through it.

The return of the Payson Loggers Sawdust Festival last year, with two days of rain, was more reminiscent of those old mud events than the celebration of the logging industry.

Still, contestants, their family, friends and others braved the elements and had a great time. After all, doesn’t the kid in everyone like a chance to play in the mud every now and then?

This year, the resurrected Sawdust Festival is a couple of weeks later — it is Saturday, June 5 and Sunday, June 6 — and fair weather has been on tap a little more regularly than last year.

This is being billed as the 20th edition of the Annual Loggers Sawdust Festival — a first-class logging competition with 28 events, which will include something for everyone and every skill level.

Contestants will have their accuracy, speed and endurance tested through events that replicate many of the logging practices within the logging industry, utilizing saws, axes, gear and sweat to provide lumber and fuel for the early settlers of the region. Points are acquired for each event and cash prizes awarded. The accumulated points are used to determine the Logger of the Year and Lady Logger of the Year.

The Payson Loggers Sawdust Festival takes place at the Payson Event Center, located at the south end of town directly across State Highway 87 (the Beeline) from the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.

Gates open at 9 a.m. Admission is $10 for adults; children 12 and under are admitted free of charge.

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