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Staying sharp in Snoqualmie | Valley Record's Railroad Days Photo Gallery

Snoqualmie Fire Department volunteer EMT Cat Cotton and her rescued Dalmatians, Hope and Faith, ride in the city’s first-ever fire engine during the Railroad Days parade, Saturday, Aug. 17.
Snoqualmie Fire Department volunteer EMT Cat Cotton and her rescued Dalmatians, Hope and Faith, ride in the city’s first-ever fire engine during the Railroad Days parade, Saturday, Aug. 17. 'The parade was great,' says Cotton. 'How can you not smile when you see the kids faces light up when they see the fire engines and the 'fire dogs!' That's always our payback for volunteering when we see the support from the community!'
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

There’s a trick to throwing an axe—throwing it well, anyway— and it’s remembering to exhale.

Sounds easy enough, but the dozen of us chosen for the honors during the timber sports demonstration put on by Snoqualmie residents David and Annette Moses and family during Saturday’s Railroad Days festivities, can tell you otherwise.

“Point your thumbs down the handle.” “Keep your hands together.” “Widen your stance.” “Throw on the exhale.” That’s what I got for training, then they put an axe into my inexpert hands and told me to go for it. And the audience — almost 200 people — got a good laugh, because the only thing I hit on my first two tries was dirt.

I called for an emergency secondary coaching session from Robert Groce, and I must have listened better this time, because I hit the target on my third try — not quite a five-point bullseye, but a redeeming four points. I can’t really say what he told me, or what I did differently, but I breathed out, threw, and I knew before it happened that the axe would make a gratifying thunk in the target. But,  I started thinking again, and my fourth attempt was back in the dirt.

Watching the extended Moses family working at the stations throughout the demo, I could see and hear their whooshing exhalations. My guess is they have to empty out so they can have more room for that next incoming breath. It was a good approach to all of Railroad Days, and I caught myself doing it as I roamed from the arts stage and demos, through the vendors, the kids’ play area and beyond. Empty out, so you can take it all in for what comes next.

The Renton-Pickering American Legion Color Guard provides the traditional start to the Railroad Days parade Saturday, Aug. 17

David Moses Sr. races to cut through his log first in a timber sports demonstration in Sandy Cove Park.

David Moses Jr. and wife Annette get ready to race in the double-buck sawing competition.

Kat Cooper sends an axe flying as her competitor, Kathy Groce, retrieves her own axe.

Natasha Strand demonstrates the underhand chop for a group of awed children and adults.

Old meets new as draft horses pull cell-phone wielding visitors along Falls Avenue in the Carmichael's True Value wagon.

Mount Si cheerleaders perform in the parade with special guest cheerleaders, center.

Weaver Hilde shows Lucas and Anna Jeans of Snoqualmie how to use a loom to make a scarf. (Courtesy photo)

Bob and Russell Wentz of Wentz Electronics take a spin in their 1970 Cushman four-wheeler during the parade.

Clan Gordon musicians catch a ride on Falls Avenue at the end of the day.

Nancy Larsen high-fives the cheering section of (from left) Maya Baker, and siblings Jace, Rafe and Madeira Dawson, as she finishes the 5K run.

Jake Zbikowski, 3, enjoys the model train display with Sue Zbikowski and Mandy Paulovich, of Seattle.

Turner Meloche of Woodinville grins and shouts "Henry!" as he recognizes a familiar face in the model train display at the American Legion Hall.

Quinn Itagaki of Bellevue spent most of Saturday pumping water in the "duck flume" at Carmichael's Hardware, said his mom, Els.

The Snoqualmie Valley Winds entertained crowds during and after the Railroad Days parade.

With his cape fluttering, a volunteer strikes a hero's pose as part of the Snoqualmie Y's parade float.

A cheerleader hands 4 year-old Anna Fuller a pompom during the parade.

Encompass' castle-themed float was complete with a purple-robed King Gregory Malcolm.

Children's stage performer Nancy Stewart gets enthusiastic help from Bella Twyman during a song.

At the kids paint out, (from right) Carolee McCarty, Aoife O'Reilly, and Elijah McCarty finish their masterpieces with supervision and help from Janelle McCarty.

Junior Wildcat cheerleaders put on a show for the judges during the parade.

Wowing the crowds with flips and stunts, the Mount Si High School cheerleaders drew lots of applause.

Parade Grand Marshal Susan Hankins smiles and waves in the parade.

Led by Ray and Gayle Sneesby, the Legends Car Club parade entry was a preview for Sunday's all-day car show.

Ghouls prowled the parade to promote the upcoming Night on a Dark Trail event.

Colorful costumes on everybody, including the pets, marked the Cascade Dance Academy parade entry.

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