My Favorite Lumberjack Competitions
I'd like to share with you some of my favorite lumberjack competitions. In the grand scheme of things, I really haven’t traveled to many places outside of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada to compete. Although I haven’t visited as many competitions as some of readers of this site, I’d like to share some of my favorites. Perhaps we can all learn something by thinking about why we enjoy our favorite shows.
Warren, CT Competition
Run by Shannon Strong, I went to this show for several years before it was replaced with a demo/exhibition. My favorite part of this show was the combination of good events, excellent announcing and a great venue. Hosted in October during a fall festival, it was the perfect time of year to enjoy some wood chopping in the outdoors. George Anderson announced and he is without a doubt the most entertaining emcee that I’ve ever heard. He kept both the crowd and the competitors laughing all day. This show also had the standing block and the single buck, events rarely seen in New England and it was great to compete in those events without having to travel a great distance.
Fair Haven, VT
Brad Stevens runs this show every July in the center of Fair Haven. It is a small invitational show that I’ve competed in a couple of times. What separates this show from many others are the perks for the competitors, a very laid back atmosphere, and handicapped chopping events. Although I’m not a huge fan of handicapped chops, I do think they are great for the crowd and it’s nice to experience them in a competition format every once in a while. Brad really treats all the competitors well and has extra perks on top of the prize money. For example, one year all the competitors that placed in the single buck received Carhartt pants from a local store in addition to prize money.
STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series
They are in a class of their own when it comes to a fairly judged show. There is no other competition that does a better job of providing even wood, and excellent judging. It’s a great feeling to show up to a contest and know that the luck of the wood draw or poor judging isn’t going to play a role. It just comes down to your own performance.
Fryeburg is one of my favorite lumberjack competitions because of the crowd. It has by far the biggest crowd in North America and perhaps anywhere in the world. I’m not sure exactly how many spectators actually watch the show, but I would guess that it’s over 10,000. As a competitor in this sport, racing in front of thousands of people is truly a privilege. To give you an idea of how much the spectators enjoy the show, when I arrive at 7 o‘clock in the morning there are already fans in the grandstand waiting for the competition which doesn‘t begin until late morning.
Boonville is probably the best show, all-around, that I‘ve competed in. They do a great job with the wood, announcing, judging, organization, and drawing a large crowd. Although there are shows that may do a better job with one of those particular aspects, no show that I’ve attended has ever pulled everything together so well.
Memaramcook, NB, Canada
Memramcook is a contest hosted by Mario Bourque in New Brunswick. I’ve traveled there a couple of times and it is one of my favorite small shows. I like it because everything is handled well at the show. From the event selection to wood quality to the announcing, it is all top notch. I’m not sure if he still does, but Rod Cumberland used to announce the competition. I consider Rod to be one of the best announcers in the business and I have tried to model my announcing after his style. He has an ability to include both humor and information into his emceeing and it is very effective. Anytime that I can compete in front of a crowd that is truly enjoying the show, it’s more enjoyable as a competitor. This show is also fun to compete in because of the laid back atmosphere in the Maritimes. The competitors in this region are both skilled and friendly. That sense of camaraderie makes it a great place to compete.
Nova Scotia Agricultural College Competition
This collegiate competition is held in February in an indoor arena. It features the most enthusiastic crowd you’ll ever find. I’m not sure if they still do, but they used to serve beer to all the spectators starting around lunchtime. The stands are usually packed with enthusiastic, intoxicated college students by the time all the glory events begin in the afternoon. I love racing in front of a screaming crowd. And you’d be hard pressed to find a more exciting crowd than at NSAC. To give you an idea of how loud the crowd can be at this show, watch the first clip of the standing block chop in the video below.
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