25th annual International Lumberjack Championship coming up at end of August

Courier file photo Yolanda Hagmann of Switzerland successfully halves the block of timber during the Standing Block Chop event of the St. Stephen International Lumberjack Championship at the Ganong Nature Park last year.

Todd’s Point – From August 31 to September 1, St. Stephen will again play host to the International Lumberjack Championship. The event, now in its 25th year, will bring the very best lumberjacks/lumberjills from the Maritime Provinces, Quebec and the New England States to the Ganong Nature Park to compete.

Rod Cumberland, formerly a teacher at the Maritime College of Forest Technology in Fredericton, will be the Master of Ceremonies for the two day event where competitors will be showing off their strength, skills, agility, grace, and pure endurance.

Cumberland says though each year’s event feels special, this year stands out for a couple of reasons.

“Matt Cogar, the six time American lumberjack champion, will be coming up from West Virginia to compete this year,” said Cumberland, adding, “I wanted some high profile competitors at the show, so I reached out to a few people I know, and Matt will be coming, as well as Ben Kniceley.”

Kniceley is a lumberjack competitor from North Carolina who won the STIHL Collegiate US Championship in 2015, and competed at the Rookie World Championships with Cumberland’s son Ben in 2016 – a competition that Ben won.

“We’ve got 10 Americans coming up this year, so we’ve got a good slate of American competitors,” said Cumberland, adding a relay race, where teams compete to complete seven or eight events in a row, has been organized between the American and Canadian teams – deciding once and for all which nation produces the best lumberjacks.

It’s rare for world class athletes to congregate in this small part of the world, but when they do it’s fitting it should be for lumberjack sports – given the long history that New Brunswick has with lumberjacks and logging.

The lumberjack competition will be on Saturday, Aug 31 and the events on Sunday are geared more towards entertainment, such as the US vs. Canada relay race, a chainsaw carving competition, and an axe throwing championship.

The competition on Saturday will be broken up into three different divisions – men, women, and masters (for those 55 years and older), and will see people competing in events like underhand butcher block, which involves two people chopping through a huge piece of pine. And then there is obstacle pole bucking, which involves competitors running up a pole and cutting the top off of it, and there will be the crowd favorite, “Hot Saw” event, where competitors use saws that they have modified to cut through a log as fast as possible.

The entrance/admission fee is $5, and there will be a fundraising barbecue on site if you get hungry. Bring a lawn chair, your sunscreen, and the whole family.

“I think this is the biggest show in the Maritimes this year. It’s gonna be a good show,” said Cumberland.

andrewsutton@stcroixcourier.ca