Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Show still delivers after decades of fair appearances

Lee and Lyle LeCaptain during a comedy segment of the show

Lee LeCaptain loves bringing the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show to the N.C. State Fair. It’s something he first did in the early 90’s. At that time, the show was based in Heritage Circle, and it made use of the pond there.

“To me [this fair] is one of the best in the nation. I enjoy it probably better than any other state fair in the country,” LeCaptain said after a recent show during the 2021 fair. “I come here, it’s like home. It’s just very comfortable. It’s almost like here is a vacation, but I’m still working hard. I work harder here than the other ones because I have two shows, and I’m bouncing back and forth, and normally we don’t do that.”

The full lumberjack show is in the N.C. State Fair Conservation Forest (presented by Enviva) on the northwestern side of the fairgrounds near Gate 6. For 2019, the fair and LeCaptain worked together to add a log run pool on the far southeastern side of the fairgrounds near Gate 12. It’s the largest log run pool in the world according to LeCaptain.

He’s lived in Florida since 1989, but LeCaptain grew up in the upper peninsula of Michigan. His mother was a director for ice shows after World War II. She also started a dancing production studio. So, LeCaptain knew and understood the entertainment business from a young age. He was in his first lumberjack show called “The River Kids” at age 11 in 1971. That show eventually turned into The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show.

Lyle LeCaptain participates in multiple parts of the show

His wife Myra has helped manage the show for many years, and his son Lyle joined the show fulltime a few years ago. Lyle recently won his first world championship in a chopping event, and he’s a top-ranked log roller in the world. Since he joined the family business, the show has expanded to many more venues.

“For the first time in my life I have someone that can help me on the road and do everything,” Lee LeCaptain said. “My wife Myra does the stuff at home, and when Lyle came in it was just “boom” – an explosion.”

Lyle’s dog Gracie

Lyle’s dog Gracie even learned to run logs, and she joins the show for races too. She’s about the fifth dog to be part of the show the senior LeCaptain said.

After so many years, Lee LeCaptain still loves putting on the show, and he still loves bringing it to Raleigh.

“It’s why we keep doing it – because we have so much fun,” Myra LeCaptain said.

The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show attracts a cheering crowd

In some ways, Lee LeCaptain feels indebted to the N.C. State Fair for being one of the big events that welcomed him in the early years of his show. While he hasn’t always been a part of the state fair over the years, he’s happy to be back whenever he can, and he’s happy to be putting on two shows that fans can’t seem to get enough of. (Look for the shows in the 2021 daily schedule: ncstatefair.org/2021/Visitor/Daily.htm)

“I love it. I haven’t grown up. Why would anyone want to do something like that?” LeCaptain joked. “You travel the world. You make money. You have fun. I’m so blessed.”


About Tractor Pull

Tractor Pull is the fair-themed alias for Brandon Herring, a public information officer in the Public Affairs Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He's no stranger to the fair or the farm. A North Carolina native, he grew up helping on the family farm just east of Lumberton. After more than 15 years in TV news, he's sharing news of a different kind these days. He loves the rides on the fair's midway, but also loves that the fair has so many other things to see and do that are grounded in agriculture. His favorite fair food is a funnel cake with just powdered sugar - a classic!

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