'Bunyan Brothers' are back at the fair

Local Boy Scout Nathan Moir undertook restoration of the dilapidated wooden statue
Nathan Moir talks about the restoration of the iconic “Bunyan Brothers” statue Thursday at The Expo in Central Point. Mail Tribune / Julia MooreJulia Moore

CENTRAL POINT — After a yearlong absence, a pair of beloved lumberjack brothers that have greeted fairgoers and 4-H kids at The Expo's Gate 6 for two decades will once against grace the northerly skyline of the fairgrounds.

The "Bunyan Brothers" will appear with the morning sunshine today just in time for next week's annual Jackson County Fair.

If you go

What: Dedication ceremony for the newly restored "Bunyan Brothers"

When: 10 a.m. today, July 12

Where: Gate 6 at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point

Local Boy Scout Nathan Moir coordinated restoration of the twin towers shortly after they disappeared from site last summer.

Affixed to a deteriorating wood and metal framework, the statues were removed in early summer after a storm caused pieces of the lumberjacks' faces to fly toward the fairgrounds parking lot.

Nathan, 15, decided to tackle the restoration for his Eagle Scout project, which involved fundraising, research and coordinating volunteers.

Designed and built by Central Point sign maker Hal E. Bishop in the 1950s, the 37-foot characters once advertised the now-defunct Eugene F. Burrill Lumber Co., the county's last independently run lumber mill.

When the statues were donated to the county fairgrounds in 1994, the Burrill company paid to have the towers restored and repainted by veteran millwright Frank Haynes.

Nathan recruited Haynes and his grandson, sign maker Brady Robison, to repaint the towers over the past several months.

An incoming sophomore at Cascade Christian High School, Nathan said he helped return the statues in a "better than new" condition, with metal framework and without any wood this time around, not only to fulfill his Eagle Scout requirement but also in tribute to the community's timber heritage.

The project involved more than 300 volunteer hours between Nathan, Haynes, Robison and two dozen volunteers, in addition to donated materials and some $400 in donated cash. Rodda Paint, which donated paint for the towers in 1994, provided paint for the latest refurbishing, too.

Local construction contractor John Rotar of R.A. Murphy Construction mentored Nathan for the project.

"I was actually really pleased with how they turned out and how willing everybody was to help get them redone," Nathan said.

"I always remembered driving by and seeing them while I was growing up and thinking they were pretty cool. The past few years I'd noticed they just started looking pretty bad. Now they're better than they were to begin with."

Fairgrounds director Dave Koellermeier said Expo staff were excited to see the brothers return to their longtime home and dispelled rumors the statues were going to be relocated.

"If you don't believe everything you read on social media, then the truth of the matter is they never left the grounds and we always planned to see them restored," he said.

"A lot of tales get out of hand, but the reality is that we're very proud of this young man and the towers look great. They're iconic. And obviously people knew they were down because we took a lot of calls when they disappeared."

Koellermeier was glad the project wrapped up in time for the fair, which begins Tuesday.

"It's just really cool to see this get done. We've certainly heard a lot of commentary about, 'Hey, where did those logger dudes go?' Well, they're back and they really, really look good."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Ewmail her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.


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