WOODSMAN’S FIELD DAY / Future Farmers of America (FFA) events at the Sandwich Fair on Sunday morning, Oct. 7: Jim Moulton leaps quickly over the log and stanchion to pivot into position to maneuver the log back to the finish. His partner, Tucker Wentworth, is ready to roll. The two are students in the Lakes Region Technical Center Forestry program. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
October 11, 2012SANDWICH — The Lakes Region Technical Center's forestry students had a field day at the Sandwich Fair on Sunday, Oct. 7 – a Woodsman's Field Day this is.
Agricultural Sciences teacher and advisor to the Future Farmers of America team Bruce Farr and his team of young men and women showed off the results of their weeks of practice for three hours that day.
Onlookers, many proud parents among them, watched the culmination of hours of preparation by the students that first took place at the school's woodlot and ring off McManus Road adjacent to Crescent Lake Elementary School.
In an interview at the newly renovated LRTC on the Wednesday prior to the big day, students said they were prepared for just about anything. The students, who attend the school from Governor Wentworth Regional School District towns as well as Alton, Farmington and Moultonborough, won top honors recently at the Deerfield Fair, besting seven other schools.
Would it rain? Would it be muddy on Sunday? It didn't matter to them. "We work outdoors no matter what it's like," said Olivia Alden. "We're used to it."
Maverick Eldridge explained that the school prepares all the wood for the events, including a log selected by Farr and cut and stripped down just before transport. Contestants in the log rolling event have to deal with the unwieldy and heavy, tapered log, communicating with each other as they attempt to roll it, with their sharp peaveys in hand to jab or lift it on its way to a set of stanchions (both sides must touch) and back to the starting rods. If it doesn't touch on both sides, the team has to back it up almost half way to line it up.
Farr says it's all geometry in motion. Contestants must assess angles, distance and speed in synch with their partners. That's the key, teamwork. "The winner is not always the strongest pair," explains Farr. They have to be quick and agile.
Eldridge said he worked with Farr to cut the chunks of wood for the cord split contest, which entails chopping the log, set upright inside a tire, as fast as one can. They also had to bring wood for the pulp toss, in which the woodman has to toss long pieces of wood a distance between two posts. That's harder than it looks.
Steve Miller, a member of the state champion forestry team of 2011, has been on hand to coach during practices and was there at the fairgrounds to call up contestants and start and time the events. He wasn't alone. Alumni James Airey, Josh Askew, Lynn Carey and Steve and Ben MacMartin and Megan Horne assisted throughout the morning along with Alden's mother, Lynn. Phil Custeau, Plant Operations specialist at the Kingswood Complex and father of two participants, was an unflaggingly energetic cheerleader for all.
With longtime supporter Dottie Burrows keeping track of scores and Tink Taylor of Holderness handling the microphone, students progressed through as many as eight events: cordwood split; dot split; pulp toss; tree identification; log rolling; bow saw and two man saw and chainsaw ("Boys do like noise," commented Farr with a smile when several revved up their chainsaws at once.).
At last, after a morning of helping others, Miller and Carey jumped in to work the two-man saw and have a stab at log rolling. The father/daughter team of Kelly and Eric Elliot – who recalled the state championship his Dover High School team won in 1980, the first in New Hampshire – did the same. Kelly's sister Tara ('01) and Kim Eldridge (Kennett '04) eagerly joined in as well. Allie Custeau and her mom, Sarah, and Rusty White Sr. and Rusty White Jr. of Conway followed suit.
Final results of the Woodman's Field Day at the Sandwich Fair on Sunday, Oct. 7 are as follows.
Josh Smart won the Cordwood Split competition, followed by Chris Pitts and Joe Piper.
The Dot Split victory went to Joe Piper, followed by Tyler Brewster and Jesse MacInnis.
The team of Ben Custeau and Maverick Eldridge won first place in the pulp toss, followed by Ryan Hamilton and Jesse MacInnis at second and Chris Pitts and Josh Smart.
Tree identification winners in order were Jim Moulton, Ginny Shackford and Emma Bussiere.
In the log rolling event, Maverick Eldridge and Joe Piper edged out the Tucker Wentworth and Chris Pitts duo for first place. Ben Custeau and Cory Lobdell achieved third place.
Bow Saw winners first through third place were Maverick Eldridge, Ben Custeau and Ryan Hamilton.
Two Man Saw teams first through third place were Maverick Eldridge and Ryan Hamilton; Corey Lobdell and Chris Pitts; and Josh Smart and Tucker Wentworth.
Ben Custeau was first in the chain saw competition, followed by Jesse MacInnis and Chris Pitts.
Ginny Shackford and Chris Pitts were awarded trophies for Woodsmen of the Day.