The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 1, 2011

Mountain Man competition still going strong at fair

LAURELTON — In 1976, millions of Americans like William Zimmerman were swept up in Bicentennial fever as the country celebrated the events that led to its creation.

It also was the first year the Mountain Man competition was held at the Union County West End Fair.

Thirty-five years later, the competition, using only weapons available until the 1840s, continues as the 86th annual fair opened at the fairgrounds off Route 235 on Sunday.

Zimmerman also was back, wearing 18th-century garb, including buckskin leggings he made himself, a cotton tunic and straw hat.

“I was always interested in history,” the father of three grown children said. “There’s a rich history in this area, from the Buggy Museum, Heritage Days and Civil War re-enactors.”

Eight men competed in events such as tomahawk throws, archery, fire-making with flint and steel and muzzle-loader shoots.

The competitors have known each other for years, and the camaraderie among them was evident.

“I’ve never seen a left-hand do anything,” competitor Tom Vance joked as left-handed Zimmerman prepared to throw a tomahawk.

“Don’t throw your elbow out,” yelled another.

The ribbing is all in fun and part of the event, said Vance, of Weikert.

A former blue ribbon champion, he edged out Zimmerman for the Mountain Man title in 1986.

The 2010 reigning champ, Lane Zimmerman, 22, of Mifflinburg, said he was looking forward to losing the title.

He did, to Duane Miller, of Millmont. Miller last won the title in 2009.

A muzzle-loader shoot competition is scheduled for Labor Day weekend at the Union County Sportsman’s Club in Weikert. The public is invited to participate.

Nearby, more than 100 spectators enjoyed the ATV pull event, held at the fair for the first time.

It’s a fun, family event for trail riders Cam and Angelina Shaffer, of Middleburg, who have competed in other ATV pulls.

Participant Brian Kerstetter, of Mifflinburg, said he didn’t know what to expect.

“It’s something to do on a Sunday,” he said.

Jerry Lewis II, of Beaver Springs, and his twin brother, Justin Lewis, of Selinsgrove, and their wives and sons had the same idea when they came out to watch the competition.

A similar event has been held at the Beaver Springs Fair the past two years and attracts a large crowd, Kathryn Lewis said.

“Next year, it will be full here,” she predicted.

Both Lewis families are avid ATV riders and appreciate having another place and event to ride them.

“I think it would be awesome if they had dirt bikes, too,” said Austin Lewis, 15, of Selinsgrove.

The fair continues today through Saturday, with a livestock show arena benefit scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.

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