FARMINGTON – To sounds of a cheering crowd, teenage loggers from around the state showcased their skills from axe throws to skidder maneuvers during Thursday’s woodsmen’s meet.
Even the steady rain and the wet, muddy ground didn’t halt the student loggers’ efforts nor the crowds’ enthusiasm on the first day of a two-day event. On Friday, they will compete in the so-called game of logging that really isn’t a game at all; instead it’s precision skills such as bore cuts, felling and spring poles, Mike Henderson, a student at Region 11 – Oxford Hills Tech in Norway, said Thursday.
Travis Hupper and Issac Chick, both students at host school Foster Regional Applied Technology Center in Farmington, watched as competitors tried their hands with an axe.
They’d be competing in a skidder event. He would haul a hitch of tree-length wood through an obstacle course, Hupper said Thursday. He had been practicing, some at home but mostly at school, for the event.
“You have to drop a hitch, back up over logs and then drive ahead and then you bring up the hitch,” Hupper said.
“It takes patience,” he said. “I think we’ll do OK.”
His counterpart, Chick, explained he would hook onto a hitch and drag the tree-length hitch through the woods. “The object is not to skin up any trees as you go through the woods,” Chick said.
Jason Edmunds, another student from the Region 11 forestry program, brought an axe above his head and swung it down in an attempt to split the dot on a small, wooden cookie.
He hit his mark once in four tries and was one of several tied for third place awaiting a split-off.
As he waited, Edmunds said Thursday, that the trick is “Keeping your eye on the dot and hope you hit it.”
Events such as Thursday’s are a chance to show your skills, he said, and have as much fun as you can.
Zach Meisner was waiting for his event to come as he stood and watched the dot-splitting competition.
“I’m in the skidder competition and will have to push a log through an obstacle course,” Meisner, a student at Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico, said Thursday. “I’m hoping to make it … It’s not easy.”
The log is about 12 feet long, just long enough so you can see it over the edge of the skidder, he said.
“I’m a little nervous. I’m not much of a stage person,” Meisner said.
He wasn’t worried about his skidder skills, he said, rather it was being the focus of the attention in case he messed up.
“Anything could happen,” he said.