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The Midwest Log Rolling Championship rolls into Madison

Some off the best lumberjack athletes in the world will be at Lake Wingra.

Two women log rollers compete on a lake, one falling into the water..jpg

Log rolling competitions began in the late 1800s. | Photo via Madison Log Rolling (Michael Rausch)

We have something you can log into your weekend calendar: attend the Midwest Log Rolling Championships at Lake Wingra.

  • When: Saturday, June 29
    • 10 a.m.: Amateur competition
    • 12 p.m.: Celebrity log rolling
    • 1 p.m.: Elite competition
  • Where: Wingra Park and Boat Livery, 824 Knickerbocker St.
  • What: Some of the greatest lumberjack athletes in the world will vie to become champion. Donations will be given to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Wisconsin Chapter.

What’s log rolling?

In the 1800s, lumberjacks drove the timber from forests to sawmills using rivers. They would step on the floating logs, working from bank to bank.

They soon learned to roll the logs to stay on their feet (and stay dry). Lumberjacks soon started to compete against each other to see who could stay on the longest. The first unofficial log rolling world championship took place in 1898. Tom Fleming of Eau Claire was the champion.

Today, log rolling, and lumberjack sports in general, are a multi-million dollar enterprise, seen on ESPN and Outdoor Life.

The next event for the pros is the US Log Rolling Championships on Thursday, July 4 in Gladstone Michigan.

Log rolling winners will then be able to compete in the Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wisconsin, taking place Thursday, Aug.1-Saturday, Aug. 3.

Can you participate?

Madison Log Rolling offers classes, camps, and private lessons for all ages and skill levels. On Lake Wingra, the season runs June through August, and indoor sessions are available during the colder months.

Shana Verstegen is the owner of Madison Log Rolling. The six-time log rolling world title holder said, “The uniqueness of the sport, the athleticism required, and the amazing people are what keeps me going.”

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