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Old Time Woodsman Competition Comes to Gilford

Kathi Caldwell-Hopper - August 20, 2012

Once upon a time, chopping wood was just part of life for everyone. If you wanted to keep warm, you had a woodstove. That stove was fired by lots of wood. To provide the wood, hearty men and women grabbed axes and chopped up timber.

Many men (and even a few women) made their living in the deep woods. Woodsmen that chopped trees with axes and cross cut saws inhabited lumber camps. Later, the wood was transported out of the lumber camps with the aid of draft horses. It is a way of life that has all but disappeared.

On Saturday, August 26, from 11am to 3pm, a bit of the skill and charm of the old-time woodsmen comes to Gilford village during the town’s Bicentennial. August 26 just happens to be Old Home Day in Gilford, and events will be taking place from one end of the village to the other.

“The Woodsman Competition will take place in the field near the Gilford Elementary School,” explains Dale Squires. Dale is working with Bill and Sally Bickford, co-chairs of the event; the Bickfords own and operate Kitchen Cravings in Gilford.

“Bill and Sally have been to woodsmen competitions in the past and Bill has competed in some of the events,” Dale continues. “And Sally likes to watch these events. Bill knew AJ Dupere, Head Coach of the UNH Woodsman Team and Forester for the State of New Hampshire. AJ has lots of experience doing these woodsmen competitions.”

Dale got involved when he learned of the event and talked it over with Andrew Morse, the director of landscape maintenance at Belknap Landscape. (Dale is marketing manager at the company.)

Andrew was the perfect person to help with the Woodsmen Competition, because he works with tree cutting on a regular basis, and he could provide the trees that would be necessary for the event.

Anything and everything that has to do with wood will be at the competition. It’s a great spectator event, as well as a fun place to get in on the competition.

Dale mentions that when Bill Finethy, owner of Gilford Home Center, learned of the event, he wanted to help. Bill contacted his rep for the Stihl chainsaws sold at Gilford Home Center; Bill thought perhaps the rep could help with the woodsmen competition. Stihl will be providing brand new chainsaws for the competition, along with fuel & oil, as well as all required chaps, hard hats and ear and eye protection.

“Anyone can compete in the event,” explains Dale. There will be two divisions – one for the general public and another for the experts. For just $5 per event, the public can sign up to compete.

Coach Dupree has told the committee he will need a lot of wood for the competition and he gave a list to Dale. “It’s a big list and someone had to step up and deliver,” Dale says. Belknap Landscaping is that someone and they are happy to help with the fun event.

All sorts of businesses are involved: Verizon will be digging a large hole and Belknap Landscaping will bring a large tree with bark still on it. The Belknap Landscaping tree service crane will set the limbed tree in the hole. The tree will be used for the tree-climbing contest, which is a great spectator event.

Spectators will see competitors vying to win in eight categories:

1.         Lumberjack vertical cut (down-up-down) single engine 25cc.

2.         Decking log roll.

3.         Log Toss between two stakes for distance.

4.         Bucksaw Cutting.

5.         Quarter Split (axe).

6.         Horizontal Split-chop log in half.

7.         Skillet Throw-Adults/Children’s.

8.         Pole Climb.

The Tree Care Industry Association is encouraging tree care professionals to participate and otherwise promote the event across New England. Bringing extensive experience with such competitions, AJ Dupere will be bringing the necessary equipment, and running the event’s competitions.

The event is a chance to watch real, skilled tree cutters and loggers in action reminiscent of the old-time days of lumberjacks. It is also a great chance for non-woodsmen to compete. If you have ever chopped up wood for a fire or wanted to get involved in some of the skilled jobs done by lumbermen, the August 26 event is your chance!

For more information on the NH Woodsman Competition, call Dale Squires at 528-2798. 

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