This article is a humorous look at some of the common characters that can be found at lumberjack competitions. If you take a honest look, you’ll likely see yourself in some of these characters. Just remember, “If you can't laugh at yourself, you may be missing the colossal joke of the century.” Let’s take a look at some of these characters that make lumberjack competitions what they are today.
“Old Man Logger” This guy waits all year for the lumberjack contest to come around. It’s the only place where he gets a captive audience to talk about the good old days of wood cutting. Trust me, this guy walked to school uphill both ways in a snowstorm, even in the summer, and he wants to tell you about it. He’s been boring his grandchildren with the same handful of stories for years, but at the lumberjack show he can share these stories with like-minded people and he loves it. If there is an accent in his area, rest assured, his will be the strongest. You may even have a hard time understanding what he is saying, but just nod and smile and you’ll be alright. Make it a point to talk to him, as he represents the essence of this sport - hard work.
The "Chronic Handshaker” Usually a competitor, this person is hard to dislike. Enthusiastic, friendly, and good-hearted, this guy just has to constantly congratulate you on your performances - even if they suck. And no task is too small! He’s even willing to reward you with a hearty handshake after a successful trip to the bathroom without falling in the toilet.
The “Talk-about-myself-er” (TAMER) Always a competitor, most of us are guilty of being this person from time to time. Some, however are far worse than others. Here’s an example of how a conversation typically goes with this person:
Normal Joe: “Hey, do you know what time it is?”
TAMER: “My time was 18 seconds on a 12” underhand chop last year.”
The “Worrier” This spectator, usually a mother, spends the majority of the contest praying that her child survives the day without losing an appendage. Longing for the good old days when she used to fret about concussions on the football field or hockey rink, she wonders, “What have I done to deserve this?”
The “Complainer” This poor person, usually either a competitor or a competitor’s significant other, spends the majority of their time complaining about the topic of the day. Normally the focus is on the wood or the way the competition is being run, but anything is fair game. Spend some time with this person, and you’ll go from jovial to depressed in a matter of minutes. You can’t help but laugh at this individual, because you know that if they were to win the lottery, they’d likely harp on all the taxes they would have to pay.
The “Overexcited Advice Giver” Okay, this may not be a common category, but it certainly applies to me. This person gets excited watching events, and tends to lose their head a bit. For example, forgetting that they aren’t the one chopping and yelling at a 150 lb novice competitor to “drive it off” when there is still 4 inches of wood left to cut. After unintentionally sabotaging the competitor’s chop, it is customary for this person to attempt to blend into the crowd and play dumb about the whole incident.
The “Power Trip Volunteer-er” This fair volunteer takes their job very seriously. It can be anyone from a show timer to an inept head judge, but usually it involves the front gate person or a parking attendant. Something about driving your vehicle into the fairground brings out the crazy in people, I’m not sure what it is. My best guess is that these folks likely have an overbearing boss in their normal job, or bratty children that never listen. Because of that, they relish in the idea that they finally have power in their job as a fair volunteer.
When you run into this person at the gate to enter the fair, short of hooking you up to a polygraph, it usually turns into a full-fledged interrogation. I usually end up feeling guilty for even trying to get into the fairgrounds by the time this person is done “giving me the business.”
My favorite example of this person is the “Parking Troll” as she is affectionately known at a very large competition in the US. This woman is in charge of directing all the parking in the competitor area. She starts off composed in the morning, but inevitably, as dozens of cars arrive at the same time, she loses control of the situation. At that point, she looks like a dog chasing its tail, yelling out indistinguishable words and phrases. No one has any clue what’s she is saying, but it’s pretty clear that she‘s angry! She spends the majority of the day on the verge of a mental breakdown. I always expect to find her in the afternoon drowning her sorrows with a bottle of brandy, but she always finds a way to make it through the day.
The “Conspiracy Theorist” This poor individual is a competitor that is convinced that the powers that be, either competitors or show organizers, are out to get him. Delusional and neurotic, these people spend as much time forming conspiracy theories as they do training. They are convinced that the only reason that they aren’t winning is because there is a plot against them. It reminds me of a comedy bit that Dana Carvey did on the OJ Simpson case from the mid 1990’s:
Like or hate these characters, they make lumberjack competitions what they are today. Although I may curse some of them from time to time, they add to the charm of this crazy sport. For that reason, I wouldn’t trade any of them.