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Region 9 foresters excel at Sandwich Fair

FORESTRY STUDENTS Maverick Eldridge (left) and Tyler Brewster (right) work together in the cross cut saw competition in the Woodsmen’s Field Day at the Sandwich Fair on Oct. 9 with encouragement from the crowd. The instant one finishes a long pull, the other instantly begins to pull back. If they get out of synch, the saw hesitates, losing precious fractions of a second. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
October 13, 2011
SANDWICH — Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Sandwich Fair featured forestry students from the Governor Wentworth School District's Region # 9 Vocational School competing in the Woodsmen's Field Day. Strength, agility and skill were on display in individual and team events as around 30 students, male and female, cut, split, tossed and rolled wood with focused energy.

A sizable crowd of onlookers, alumni among them, encouraged the young woodsmen as they took turns competing against the clock.

Instructor Bruce Farr kept events organized with the assistance of volunteer time and score keepers, including some of last year's students.

At the end the day, Megan Horne and Jacob Williams emerged with the top points scored, earning the Woodswoman and Woodsman of the Day designation.

In the two-man saw event, Jacob Williams and Eric Giles took first place, Steven MacMartin and Josh Nason took second, and Ryan Hamilton and Tristan Wilson took third. The contest hinges on partners working in synch. The instant one finishes a long pull, the other instantly begins to pull back. If they get off rhythm, the saw hesitates, losing precious fractions of a second.

Winners of the buck saw competition, in order of rank, were Jacob Williams, Ben Custeau and Maverick Eldridge.

The top scorers in the pulp toss were, in order, Joe Piper and Rob Evans, Scott Downing and Tyler Belanger, and Steven MacMartin and Josh Nason.

First place in the log roll event went to Scott Downing and Tyler Belanger, second place went to Chris Pitts and Jon Ames, third place went to Steven MacMartin & Josh Nason.

According to Farr, contestants have to quickly figure out the geometry of the log, its characteristics such as its taper, knots and bumps, and find its balance point to keep it rolling straight and smooth. As they jab it with their peaveys (long handled poles with a metal point and a hook to catch and flip recalcitrant wood in either direction), Farr says they "must use their legs and not their backs for strength, set their Peaveys low and firm when striking the log, and work as a team."

Participants watch the other teams carefully to get a sense of how the log is likely to move. The first team up is at a disadvantage.

In the dot split event, in which woodmen get five points for splitting the wood exactly on the dot and one point for splitting it off the dot, top finishers were, in order, Rusty White, Alley Ripley and Emma Bussiere.

The victor of the timed Cordwood Split competition was Jacob Williams, followed by Josh Nason and Maverick Eldridge.

Students also were tested in their ability to identify trees by their leaves alone. Ben Custeau had the best score, followed by Alley Ripley and Chris Pitts.

The fastest chain saw cutter was Joe Piper, followed by Tyler Tozier and Steven MacMartin.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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