First Annual Lumberjack Show at Alvirne Hills House

October 4, 2013

by Laurie Jasper

The Hudson Historical Society hosted the first Annual Lumberjack Competition on the grounds of Alvirne Hills House on Saturday, September 28.  The sunny, fall day combined with the beautiful, pastoral setting made for an ideal location for the daylong event.  Forty-eight men and women from all over New England converged on Hudson to compete in events including:  Axe Throw, Men’s and Women’s Standing Block, Underhand, Cross Cut, Springboard and Open Hot Saw.

Hudson resident Ben Marshall, 24, an Alvirne High School graduate and University of New Hampshire alumnus, organized the event.  “I’ve competed at lumberjack shows in high school and college and I thought it would be a good idea to host something closer to home.  I can’t thank the Hudson Historical Society and all the sponsors enough for helping me with this event.  Everyone was so pleased with how well things went and what a great location this is,” said Ben.

The crowd was entertained and mesmerized by the fast pace of each event.  Wielding a 7-pound axe is definitely meant for those with strength and accuracy.  Two of the most anticipated events were the Springboard and the Hot Saw.  In the Springboard, contestants climb nine-foot high wood poles.  Using just an axe and two springboards, they chop a notch in the pole to wedge one springboard, then climb on that board and repeat to ascend the second board and chop the top off of the pole.  Speed, balance, agility play a key role in this event.

Hot Saw is the loudest event, where chain saws are used to make three cuts as quickly as possible in a race against the clock.

Dave Johns, from Marcellus, NY, both competed and was the announcer throughout the day, engaging the crowd and explaining all the different events.

“This has been great for a first year show.  It’s a great venue, with great community support,” Dave said.

Members of the Alvirne High School Forestry Team and FFA volunteered at the event.  “I had a great time, I learned some great techniques here,” said Kyle Trott, 16, an Alvirne Junior who placed first in Tree Identification the day before at the Deerfield Fair.

Spectator Robert Turmel, of Hudson, shared that he used to drive the Alvirne teams to the various state fairs and competitions.  “It’s a real competitor’s sport.  It takes a lot of work to set all this up, I’m impressed with all the people here for the first year,” Bob said.  Adrien Larochelle, from Nashua, read about the event and decided to attend.  “I’m 85 years old; I used to be a lumberjack, originally from Canada.  I used a bucksaw, and we’d use horses to pull the logs.  These people are all working hard,” Adrien commented.

Special thanks were given to Atomic Tree Service of Hudson for all their efforts.  James Mills of Woodmills Lumber in Hudson and Harold Estey Lumber in Londonderry volunteered their time and cut all the logs to regulation size for the event.

At the end of the day, top competitors in each category were awarded cash prizes.  Planning has already begun for next year’s Lumberjack event.