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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Organizer Deems 16th Ironworkers Festival A Success, Despite Lower Attendance
by Andy Gardner - Indian Time
Carly Gibbard from Local 580, New York City, is the first woman in five years to attempt the column climb event.

Ironworkers union chapters from around the northeast U.S. and Canada came together for the 16th Ironworkers Festival, held on a hot, sunny and windy July 21 at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort.

This year's Ultimate Ironworker honor went to Devis Caceres from Local 580, New York City.

The Ultimate Retiree trophy went to Al Stanley from Local 12, Albany.

Local 440 retiree Bill Cook, who helped coordinate this year's festival, said attendance and union participation is down from prior years. It took place on the same day as other large community events in the area, including the opening of the Ogdensburg Seaway Festival, Colton's summer festival, the Hammond Scottish Festival and Maplestock in Waddington.

Cook and other volunteers took the reins from Mike Swamp, also a Local 440 retiree who for years was a pillar of the Ironworkers Festival.

"There's not as many members as previous years, not as many spectators. But it went well as far as I can see," said Cook, a former apprentice instructor.

He said next year he wants to try and get more apprentices to participate.

Despite the lower attendance, Cook was grateful for the favorable weather.

"It's fortunate to have a good day. I don't ever remember it being rained out," he said.

Ultimate Ironworker Devis Caceres from Ironworkers Local 580, New York City, poses for a photo along with J.P. Vallejo, Kevin Molina, Lucas Caceres and Kenneth Vallejo.

The festival's capstone event, the column climb, saw a handful of union members scaling a 30-foot I-beam with their hands and feet. Tom Bannister, who won last year's event, sprinted up in 6.47 seconds. He is a member from Local 6 out of Buffalo. Second place went to Caceres with a time of 10.37. And third place went to Steve Barnes from Local 765, Ottawa. Carly Gibbard from Local 580 was the first woman in five years to attempt the column climb, but she didn't make it all the way to the top, and was greeted with hugs and congratulations from her fellow ironworkers when she returned to the ground.

In the rivet toss event, competitors use tongs to throw rivets while a teammate on a scaffold tries to catch them with a metal cone. The team of Jeff Laxton and Caceres took first place. Bill Ferrero and Dennis Milton from Local 580 took second, and Jerome Cerverizzo took third.

Mike Papineau from Local 440 keeps balance as he takes the beam walk.

In the knot-tying event, where competitors go against a clock to see who can in the shortest time tie a knot with rope that will suspend a sledgehammer. Milton was the overall winner. Caceres took second and Stanley finished in third.

In the bolt toss event, participants try to toss as many bolts as they can into a bag with an opening about five or six inches wide that's suspended about 10 or 12 feet above the ground. The three winners were in a three-way tie for first place -- Paul Jacobs, Lakota Crouse and Cerverizzo.

The beam walk is a timed event where competitors run across a narrow I-beam and affix a metal plate at the other end with four bolts. Caceres won first place, Bannister second and Paul Jacobs third.

For the spud throw, participants throw five wrenches that are sharp at one end and aim for a bull's eye. Laxton was the winner, with Stanley in second place and Frank Laughing from Local 440 in third.

The final event, rod tying, put competitors against the clock to see who could tie the most rebar. Bannister won first. Second place was a tie between Stanley and Dave Rourke.

Johnny Skidders won first place in the watermelon eating contest. Sue Rourke won the packing event. Atomic Place was judged best in the chicken wing cookoff.

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