The Hippo


Apr 25, 2019








Ben Marshall saws one off during a singlebuck competition. Courtesy photo.

Lumberjack Show

Where: Alvirne Hills House, 211 Derry Road, Route 102, Hudson
When: Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m.
Cost: Free
Call: 880-2020

Lumberjack of all trades
Axe-wielding events at Hudson Lumberjack Show


Don’t be alarmed by the swinging axes; these guys are professionals.

For people like Ben Marshall, lumberjack shows like the one happening in Hudson on Saturday, Sept. 27, are what keep him outside and active. These guys chop wood as an art and to get their adrenaline pumping.
“It’s fun when you’re actually competing,” said Marshall, organizer of the second annual Lumberjack Show in his hometown. “You’re six-and-a-half to nine feet off the ground … swinging a razor blade between your legs. It’s a lot to do with the thrill of just doing it.”
Like-minded lumberjacks and jills from all over New England, and some from as far as Illinois and Canada, will be featured in this show. The show serves as a sort of lumberjack olympics featuring several common events in lumberjack competitions.
 Activities like the axe throw are relatively black-and-white. Lumberjacks and lumberjills must stand 20 feet from a target in which the bullseye is 5 feet off the ground. The axe-throwers are allowed four throws, and the best three throws count.
Other activities, like springboard, are a little more complex. This event involves a 9-foot-pole in which lumberjacks have to climb using only two “springboards” to chop off the block at the top of the pole.
“You chop a pocket into the pole. Once the pocket is made, you put in the springboard and hop on that board,” said Marshall. “Once the board is mounted, you chop the blocks from both sides like you’re switch hitting.”
Marshall said the event that has proven to be most popular is the “hot saw.” Appealing especially to young audiences, Marshall said, the hot saw involves taking an ordinary saw and attaching a single-cylinder motor to it, some of which are modified engines from snowmobiles and dirt bikes. The cutters then make three cuts into a log in a race-against-the-clock competition.
“People stick around to see [that competition] at the end of the day,” said Marshall. “Kids like loud things, and so do most full-grown adults.”
Marshall’s preferred competitions are the underhand chop, where the lumberjacks stand on top of a 10-inch by 10-inch block of wood (lumberjills stand on an 8-inch by 8-inch block) and swing their axes into the log below them until both sides of the log are chopped. 
He also likes the single buck, a competition in which a lumberjack uses a one-man bucking saw to cut through the log as fast as he can. Marshall said that for the first time, this year’s show is hosting the Northeast Singlebuck Championships. Singlebuck competitors will compete in the morning preliminaries for a spot in the finals later in the afternoon.
Because most of the lumberjack competitions are held in northern New Hampshire towns like Berlin and Errol, Marshall said that one of the reasons he wanted to host the event was to bring the northern sport down to a southern audience. With other popular lumberjack shows happening that Sunday in New Hampshire and parts of Maine, Marshall said he was driven to create the event to give out-of-state lumberjacks a full weekend to do what they love.
“Monday night, you’re ready to go home and go to bed,” Marshall laughed.
A fan of history, Marshall turned to the Hudson Historical Society to see if it would be interested in hosting the event.
“[Marshall] came to us last year with the idea, and it was definitely something different,” said Shawn Jasper, a board member of the Hudson Historical Society. “There was nothing down here in terms of lumberjack shows … and it fits in with our mission. It harkens back to the old days where everything was done [with axes].”
For anybody inspired by the show, Marshall said the best way to get involved in the sport is to watch the competitors closely and talk with them after the show.
“Some of them might be big, burly and ugly,” said Marshall, “But they’re also some of the nicest people out there. Don’t go inside the competition area, but don’t hesitate to ask questions, talk about the equipment they have. Just buy the stuff and start practicing.” 
As seen in the September 25, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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