Soggy day doesn't dampen spirits at Berlin's annual lumberjack festival
BERLIN— More than 60 competitors from New England and the Midwest braved a steadily falling rain to test their strength and skill at the 13th annual Lumberjack Competition and Festival in Berlin.
Sawdust flew amid the raindrops at Northern Forest Heritage Park as spectators lined up to watch events including log rolling, frying pan toss, axe throw and bow saw cutting competitions.
“We've got the best competitors, choppers and sawyers in the Northeastern U.S.,” announcer Don Quigley told the crowd. “And they're going to put on a good show for you.”
Eileen Kelley of Randolph, Miss New Hampshire's Outstanding Teen 2012, sang the national anthem from under her umbrella and then the games were on.
Matt Galambos of Biddeford, Maine, is an arborist in his day job, but has been competing in lumberjack events for 12 years, starting during his college years at University of Maine.
“It's a way to stay in shape and stay off the couch,” he said as he finished the preliminary axe throw. “You have a passion, you stay in shape.”
Galambos partnered with Chris Cicora of Springwater, N.Y., for the men's log rolling competition.
Their log didn't roll straight and touched both markers on the end of the first part of the course, so they had to hook the log and drag it sideways until it did. The return trip went better, but Cicora wasn't pleased.
“It was slow for us — we're usually about 13 (seconds),” Cicora said. “Don't know what it was, but it was slow.”
Spectators also enjoyed the bow saw competitions, cheering on their favorites and calling out “full saw, full saw” to remind sawyers to use the full range of their equipment for a faster time.
As the afternoon competitions began, the rain continued, prompting visitors to raise umbrellas and don raincoats.
Many took cover under tents set up for exhibitors or checked out the log camp lunch offered; bean-hole beans, chowder, and apple crisp were some of the favorites.
Warren Johnson and Theresa Lessarde stayed dry but busy in the log ticket booth.
“It's been more than last year,” Lessarde said. “I could hardly keep up.”
“I could be wrong, but I'd guess we've had 400 to 500 people,” Johnson said.
“There's even people from Switzerland here,” Lessarde added. “They're staying in Colebrook and saw it in the paper.”
Kellie Alvarado and her daughters Addisyn and Braylynn dodged the rain for a few minutes and asked questions as they intently watched wood carver Bob Paradis from Stark demonstrate his art.
“I've been doing this for about 25 years,” he said. “I'm not very traditional. I like to do kind of whimsical stuff that makes people laugh.”
The Alvarado family moved to Berlin in August from New Bedford, Mass., and attended the festival for the first time.
“We were looking for a nice quiet place,” Kellie Alvarado said. “Everyone is very friendly here.”
As her daughters went to check out other children's activities, she said the rain didn't stop them from coming.
“We were looking to do something different,” she said. “And this is different. It's fun.”
For more information about Northern Forest Heritage Park, go to www.northernforestheritage.org.
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