FORT WAYNE — The only thing missing from the Outdoor Sports, Lake and Cabin Show at Memorial Coliseum was the outdoors, but you hardly missed it.
After all, there were at least four ponds – one for fishing, one for human-sized, hamster-wheel-like rafts that kids could run in, another for kayaking and another for log rolling.
The log-rolling pond was where Samantha Hadley held court, even though she wasn’t rolling logs herself. Despite being ranked fourth in the world in log rolling, she was emceeing – not competing – for the Stihl Timberworks Lumberjack Show.
Instead, Dave Weatherhead and Adam Lasalle – also world championship competitors – did the competing, and Hadley manned the microphone. This was the 28-year-old Timberworks Lumberjack Show’s first stop at the Outdoor Sports, Lake and Cabin Show. While Hadley emceed the competition, Weatherhead and Lasalle chopped, wrangled, cut, climbed and rolled logs in a flurry of woodchips, roaring chain saws and flying axes.
Hadley, 23, grew up in Hayward, Wis., home of the Lumberjack World Championships, so “growing up, this is what I knew,” she said. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people, toured all over and seen a good majority of the country at 23.”
When she was in college, Hadley spent her summers competing, but now she has a job in Colorado and does lumberjacking just as “hobby/job/sport,” she says, laughing.
Like Lasalle, she also competes on the pro circuit.
As for Fort Wayne, Hadley said the crowds were large and enthusiastic.
“It’s been awesome here,” she said. “We’re a good fit for this show, I think.”
Of course, almost everything fits in an outdoors show. So while people sampled two brands of wine slushies or looked at taxidermied animals or walked through travel trailers, 12-year-old Kelsey Erexson paddled a kayak around a huge, temporary pond.
“I tried to get ’em to put catfish in there, but they wouldn’t do it,” said Sean Neeley, who was overseeing the kayakers for the Trading Post, a canoe and kayak campground in Mongo.
Erexson didn’t mind the lack of catfish. While it wasn’t quite like the Boundary Waters of Minnesota where he has been kayaking, the pond “was still pretty fun.”
Nearby, show-goers learned that no cabin is complete without a pool table, looked at boats, bought jerky and sampled Masters Hand BBQ sauce, made in Columbia City. Others crowded around a race car from Baer Field Speedway, looked over fishing gear, longed for hot tubs or investigated the differences between the many types of log cabins available, from those with square logs to insulated logs to logs with springs inside them.
Others found themselves fascinated by things they never realized were fascinating, like the antique outboard boat motors at Hot Boat Charlie’s, including a gleaming blue, silver and gold 4-horsepower Muncie from Muncie Gear Company, or intricate wooden topography maps from Lake Art.