Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues refurbished for festival
The statues are just one of many projects the chamber board is working on to make sure the 20th anniversary of the Paul Bunyan Mountain and Blues Festival is a success. It is scheduled for July 6-7, 2007.
Paul Bunyan, the famous logger, was unveiled in 1988 as part of the first Paul Bunyan Mountain and Blues Festival and a statue of Babe was commissioned the next year. Artisans at Burlwood Industries in Arcata, California carved the Paul Bunyan statue from a 1,000-year-old Redwood tree. The log was 22-feet long and 12-feet in diameter. They worked from an illustration sketched by the company’s graphic artists.
Brent, who was raised in Westwood, said he could remember the unveiling of the statues. The statue of Bunyan was the most dramatic.
To create excitement, Alex de Martimprey, who was instrumental in having the work completed, drove a flatbed truck with a veiled Paul Bunyan in the Chester Fourth of July parade. That night it was placed on a concrete platform in front of the community center on 3rd Street and shrouded in a parachute for the ceremony the next day. Hundreds of people took part, grabbing hold of the parachute lines to unwrap the statue, according to de Martimprey.
To repair the statues Brent and his crew, Joe Frederick and John Barrett, began by filling the cracks with caulking. It took a case of caulking, more than a house usually requires, said Brent. They scraped off any paint that was peeling then began the fastidious work of painting bootlaces, the checks on Bunyan’s shirt and facial features. Brent brought a color wheel to the statues in order to match the paint.
The Westwood Chamber paid for the materials and the crew’s wages, however, Brent donated the equipment and his personal time. He estimated more than 90 man hours went into the project, yet it was well worth the effort. Brent said he felt good about the end result.
The idea for the statue came from a Red River Lumber Company promotional booklet de Martimprey found in his father’s attic. The company which operated in Westwood from 1914 to 1957 used Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox as its logo. William Laughead, an employee in the advertising department, created the logo and also illustrated small booklets about Bunyan and his logging operations as advertisements for the products produced by the mill.
De Martimprey read the booklet he found in his father’s attic from cover to cover and on the last page Paul Bunyan said goodbye to the people in his hometown of Westwood adding he may one day return. This final edition of the promotional booklet sparked an idea for a grand celebration for the 75th anniversary of Westwood that included the unveiling of a Paul Bunyan statue and an international logging show.
The show is still an important part of the Paul Bunyan Mountain and Blues Festival and the statues once again look like new.
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