Monday, October 03, 2011

The Macedon Lumberjack Festival

A few weeks ago I went to a lumberjack festival. I do not know exactly what a lumberjack festival is, even after having been to one, but it seems to revolve around very strong people mutilating the corpses of innocent trees for cash prizes. There was also food, Civil War reenactors, and a petting zoo. And that's what I love about events with the word "festival" in them. You really just never know.

There was a lot of heavy-duty equipment there, like this thing that cuts trees into big long planks. Here, it's just getting started on a new long and barely skimming the top off of it.  You can see the planks that are already cut in the foreground. It's pretty impressive, but the setup time sort of deflates the excitement. Why does everything cool seem to involve so much waiting? I hate waiting.

This is a log-splitter, I guess. The setup for this is less boring because the machine picks up the log itself, which is pretty sweet. Then the whatchamacallit slowly pushes the log toward the whooseywhatsit and it splits. Lazy, for sure, but very satisfying.

In my experience of what lumberjacks do for fun (yes, I do have experience of this) splitting logs while standing on them is right up there. And it is impressive. These women were amazing, especially the one who came in last, and just kept hacking and hacking at that log until she split it, even though it was quite hot and she was completely exhausted and had already lost by several minutes. I was so enthralled I forgot to take any pictures of her. This is the woman who won. She is a personal trainer. She was admirable.

Then there was a two-man saw competition, which was serious business, as you can tell from the fact that the men involved are the size of Paul Bunyan. Before competing I'm pretty sure they ate seventy-five pancakes apiece and then drank a small river dry. (In reality, I have no memory of what Paul Bunyan is supposed to have done. I think there was an ox involved. The pancakes I'm just guessing on.)

Actually, now that I look at this picture, these aren't the hugest guys. I was, again, too amazed to take pictures of the really awesome stuff, although I did at one point take video with one hand and in-focus photos with the other, for which I think I should have won money.

Somewhere in the background people were throwing axes, which is an activity I have a strong romantic attachment to on account of watching so much Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman during my formative years. But it was hard to pay attention to that while the hot saw competition was going on, which should tell you how incredible it was. A hot saw is a chain saw that has had its motor swapped out for a ridiculously large motor from some other piece of equipment. For example, this hot saw is running on a snowmobile motor.

Years ago, when Ivan and I were watching the extras on the Lord of the Rings DVD, we laughed a lot at the part where two special effects guys recall an argument about what Nazgul should look like:

Guy one: And I told him birds don't have spines coming off their elbows like that, and their wings don't fold properly.
Guy two: And I said, "Shut up, Ben. It looks cool."

Well, it is just as wrong to put a snowmobile motor on a chain saw as it is to give birds elbow-spines. First of all, their ability to cut things is -- counterintuitively -- diminished in direct proportion to how absurdly large the motor is. Second, more money you spend on pimping out your chain saw -- once again, counterintuitively -- the less effectively it works. But, undeniably, it is cool.

The noise was incredible. I could either protect my ears or take photos, and sometimes I had to take photos. This one left me partially deaf for about five minutes. Likewise, the exhaust fumes were choking (har har). But the POWER! It seemed like any of those hot saws would cut the logs themselves if their human owners let go of them. And after they reduced their designated log to dust, they would just keep going until they had deforested Canada. If, that is, they worked. One never got past the start-em-up stage, one died in the middle, and none of the monster-saws won the competition for speed. The winner was modestly-sized and cost about seven bucks to modify.

The hot saw competition marked the end of the show, and the beginning of the petting zoo portion of the day. For some strange reason they did not have an alpaca (?!), but they did have these two adorable duckies:

which I could not stop photographing. There was also a miniature horse and a stumpy little miniature horse colt. They brought to mind my days at miniature horse camp, and my stupid horse Sweet-n-Low. To this day, when I think of her, it is with decided frosty feelings, although I do not remember why. I just remember thinking that she was not sweet. Maybe she kicked me once. Or maybe I just hated her dumb name. Left to my own devices I'm sure I would've called her Buttercup or something. Anyway. The wee little colt was adorable and obviously would never kick anyone.

I never understood what miniature horses were for or why they existed -- until the Macedon Lumberjack Festival. Now it is clear to me that although the average, unadorned miniature horse is generally useless, you could easily transform it into a valuable plowhorse with the simple addition of a pull cord and a snowmobile motor. It certainly would've improved Sweet-n-Low. She'd still be mean, but at least she'd be cool.

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