Loose your inner lumberjack in Red Cliff
RED CLIFF, Colorado – Sharp stuff will be flung at this weekend’s Man of the Cliff, and we ain’t talkin’ election year rhetoric.
Man of the Cliff is sort of a cross between a lumberjack competition and a family reunion that puts the funk in dysfunctional. At some point, someone will start singing Monty Python’s “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK,” mostly because it’s fun and it will seem like a good idea at the time.
“It’s stuff that pretty much everyone has done, except the keg and caber toss,” said Adam Williams, who’s putting this together. “It’s not every day someone hands you a big wooden pole and lets you to throw it.”
“No one throws sledge hammers at pumpkins,” Williams said.
But you can this weekend.
There’s an ax throw, speed wood chopping, archery, a caber toss, a keg toss, a hammer throw, two-man cross-cut saw racing and a group tug of war. The top combined finisher is crowned 2010 Man of the Cliff. The team title goes to the manliest team.
“Anybody can do this. No one knows what they’re doing. We even drop your lowest score, so you don’t have to be a huge guy to compete, or even a guy at all,” Williams said.
It’s free for spectators. There’s an entry fee for competitors and all the money goes to First Descents, a local organizations that provides adventure trips for young adults with cancer.
Friday is practice night. If you’re a serious competitor, you can also practice early Saturday morning.
“It’s not astrophysics, but it takes a little skill to be able to do this stuff,” said Eric Cregon with Mango’s.
If you’re not that serious, get a bloody mary and wait for the opening ceremonies where they’ll talk a little about the event, and a little about First Descents.
Alas, the opening ceremonies will not include flaming arrows.
“We talked about having people standing on the roof across the street and shoot flaming arrows into the parking lot, but the insurance company frowned on intentionally setting anything on fire,” Williams said.
Among Man of the Cliff sponsors is a beer company, so libations will live in the immediate vicinity. Also, it’s being held in Mango’s parking lot, one of the valley’s favorite local libation locations and restaurants.
But competitors tend to behave themselves before their events. No one gets to throw an ax or shoot archery when they’ve imbibed too much of the brewer’s art.
“Last year we only had one guy we had to pull out of there,” Cregon said. “It’s not a good idea to let inebriated people handle saws and axes.”
Kegs either. They’ll have a keg truck with beer kegs from which you drink, not not kegs you toss in the keg toss event – although they’re the same kind of keg.
“We have to drain the kegs before people can throw them,” Williams said.
The keg toss, by the way, is not to be confused with keg bowling.
In the keg toss, you fling a keg over a 10-foot bar. You get to choose a small keg or a large keg, but before you go for the small keg remember the event is called Man of the Cliff.
Speaking of beer, for those of us who do not count lumberjack skills among our spiritual gifts, there’ll be a couple microbreweries displaying why any ding-dong can eat grain, but that God meant it for a higher and nobler purpose – brewing really great beer.
And the brewer’s art is not the only one you’ll be appreciating. There are chainsaw sculptors, ice sculptors, and Mango’s magicians sculpting their intergalactically renowned fish tacos.
For kids, they’ll have those big inflatable bounce houses in the park.
The Man of the Cliff debuted last year. They fenced off the parking lot and hollered the lumberjack equivalent of “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
“We made up a number of rules as we went along last year,” Williams said. “It’s more of a day to have fun with your friends than a serious competition.”
It fell to Williams to get insurance for the event. The insurance people are a humorless group and weren’t laughing as he explained an event that puts sharp objects into inexperienced hands to be thrown.
Planning the event happened around backyard bonfires.
“It started out as 10 of us planning to compete in the backyard, but every time we’d tell someone about it they wanted in. It turned out to be 45 of us last year,” Williams said.
Last year they had no supplies and no experience.
“We shot archery when we were kids at church camp, but that’s about it,” Williams said. “We were getting things off Craigslist and and eBay and out of the classifieds. That was part of the fun of putting it together.”
Man of the Cliff provides saws, axes and hammers. You supply the testosterone.
Man of the Cliff is growing both in legend and popularity. So far this year, 65 have signed up online. Most people sign up the day of the event.
Because “How-Fast-You-Can-Get-a-DUI” is NOT one of the events, the Turtle Bus will be making laps to and from Red Cliff, and Mango’s has its vans for people who need a ride.
They’ll be raffling stuff all day. Prizes include Husqvarna chainsaw, charcoal smoker, Jaeger dispenser, Coors Neversummer snowboards, Kelty tents and jackets, lodging packages at the Ritz-Carlton Denver and Bachelor Gulch, Evergreen Lodge and Vail Marriott, restaurant specials including Dish, Elway’s, Ti Amo, ZaccaZa and others.