By 8 Ball Brian
Nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains lies the little town of Morton, Washington. Surrounding by mountains covered in dense forest, it isn’t surprising that 70 years ago there started up a sort of Loggers rodeo. Over the decades it grew and grew. Until today it is a world class event with competitors coming from around the world to take part in the logging show, and tens of thousands of people converge on this little town for a weekend of fun.
What’s this got to do with motorcycles you ask? Well anytime there is a big party in a place surrounded by amazing motorcycle roads, there are bound to be bikes. And plenty of them!! The Morton Loggers Jubilee, always held on the seond weekend in August, is no exception. There is a big Flea Market and food court that is open from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. The vendors have a lot of stuff that a scooter tramp might enjoy or need. And there is always a few chainsaw artists doing their thing, carving logs into amazing works of art or furniture.
The fun starts on Friday night with the lawnmower races over in Jubilee Arena. The lawnmower races started back in the day, about 30-40 yrs ago. It turns out that late on a Jubilee Friday night at the Moose Lodge, the owners of the local Ford Dealership and the local Feed Store got into a heated discussion about who was the fastest driver. As the night progressed, one of those hazy crazy ideas took root, and the two decided to prove it once and for all. They’d have a drag race down Main St. The Feed Store had just taken delivery a short time before on some brand new riding lawnmowers, and they would drag race two of them. The Ford owner left to go to his shop and bring back some high octane racing fuel, and when he returned, the race commenced. By the time he returned, the group of “drivers” had grown, so several “heats” were going to be needed.
The Moose Lodge quickly emptied out to watch the competitors drag race their high octane mowers down Main Street towards the heart of town. Sometime around midnight, as these things happen, the Police showed up. But instead of putting the kibosh on the fun, they just blocked off the ends of the street so no one would accidentally go out into traffic. Over the years, the races left Main St., and moved over to the arena where a crowd could watch the fun. Soon racers were coming from far and wide to race their 8 HP machines. I know, 8 HP doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, they get them things cooking around the track. More than a couple racers have been sent sailing through the air mid crash as their mower flipped them off the course. I have yet to see someone go watch the races, and not think about building a racing mower themselves. It is a real kick in the butt.
The racing continues on Saturday morning, but with even less horsepower. The annual Bed Races start down Main St before the Grand Parade. In these races, each team that registers down at the Fire Dept is assigned a racing bed. The teams are 5 person teams, with a definite gender breakdown. Four females push the bed, and the lone guy on the team rides. So I suppose each guy can say he is riding a 4 ‘Girl Power’ bed…or something like that.
After the Bed Races, the Grand Parade starts, and passes through the heart of town. During the parade, the two lane highway from the north gets diverted down a one lane side road. It can really clog things up, so if you want to get into town before the road gets choked, you better make it in by 10:30 just to be safe. Now this parade is like your usual parade in some ways, and completely different in others. Sure it has; bands and drill teams from all around the Pacific Northwest, and floats from other towns, classic cars, and even bikes if they want in, and of course clowns. What makes this parade different is that the big finale is all the semi-trucks and heavy equipment that makes up the end of the parade. Logging trucks with train air horns, Dump Trucks covered in chrome and fancy paint. It is something that tickles any gearheads heart.
After the parade is over, and Main St gets thinned out a bit, that is when the bikes begin to congregate downtown. The tourists tend to go to the Jubilee Arena for the Logging competition or the Flea Market. So downtown gets filled with riders coming in from all over. At least until evening, when the city blocks off the block in front of city hall and the Fire Dept. and has a street dance. Just don’t get caught with an “open container”, or the cops will be all over you for it. But there are enough places to kick back and listen to music and enjoy a cold beverage in town. So that shouldn’t really be much of a problem.
Over in Jubilee Park, next to the Arena on Saturday and Sunday mornings during Jubilee there is a “Loggers Breakfast”. A good hearty meal for a cheap price put on by the Lions Club. It makes for a great morning after the night before meal, and the coffee is always hot and strong. Just like it should be.
Now if the crowds in town during the day tend to get on your nerves, some of the best motorcycle roads in the state of Washington are within a 30 minute or so ride. So you can head out away from the maddening throngs, and up into the heaven of two lane twistiness that only remote mountain roads can provide. There is always a good reason to check out the Morton Loggers Jubilee. If you don’t care for the tourist oriented goings on in town during the day go ride, and come back for the party when the sun goes down. Just if you’re planning on coming into town over night better have reservations or a friend with a place to crash for the night. Because every motel room for 30 miles will be booked up for Jubilee. Come check it out, and see for yourself. You just might find something special about the Jubilee.
Catch ya on the road sometime…