Where it's at
In downtown Cambridge, Ohio, for one weekend each
October, a ten-foot tall wooden lumberjack, donning a flannel
that reveals defined biceps, directs passers-by to paradise
at the annual Paul Bunyan Show held at Guernsey County Fairgrounds.
Burly men. Flannel shirts. Beer. Pork rinds. Pickups. Trucker
hats. Chainsaws. Axes. How could you resist?
Named after the mythical, larger-than-life logger Paul
Bunyan, this forest products trade show attracts lumberjacks
from around the world to duke it out in competitions like
log rolling, axe throwing, and chainsaw wood-carving.
What are lumberjack sports?
Lumberjack sports, which have recently been broadcasted on
channels like ESPN, were a popular pastime at the prime
of the logging industry around the late nineteenth century
and early twentieth. Five or six lumberjack camps would gather
every now and again to compete in similar events, timing how
quickly they could saw a log in half or shimmy up a tree.
The Paul Bunyan Show, held every October, isn't the only
opportunity in the United States for lumberjacks to flex their
"If you wanted, every weekend you could go see events
like these in America," claims Curt Hiser, lumberjack
and two-time national axe throwing champion. "You could
criss-cross from California to Maine, or Minnesota to Florida."
Many of these competitions draw as many as 60,000 people.
What happens at the Paul
Although frequented by lumberjacks and exhibiting more than
$30 million in wood industry equipment, the Paul Bunyan Show,
sponsored by the Ohio Forestry Association, is not
all about cutting trees with power saws.
Sculptures of bears, tortoises, and eagles that are
carved during the chainsaw wood-carving races are auctioned
to the highest bidder. Several tents provide information about
the association and offer baby evergreen saplings to
take home and plant in backyards. Other booths sell toys made
from wood. There's live music near the Bunyan beer
garden and a truck rodeo, too.
What could be funnier than watching two men stand in canoes
and try to knock the other off with long wooden sticks? Probably
watching two men stand on a log afloat in water, and run on
it trying to get the other to slip first. Visitors watched
both during the Hank Peter's Lumberjack Water Show where men 'canoe joust' and 'log roll.'
Lumberjack food for real
The festival also draws crowds for the infamous Bunyan
burgers, massive sandwiches of bliss grilled to perfection
which can satisfy any appetite. Vendors also offer steak sandwiches,
pork rinds, freshly popped kettle corn, and gyros. One vendor
sign on the corner of 'Bunyan Boulevard' and 'Loggers
Leap' (the rows of vendors are given street names so one
doesn't get lost among the sea of power tools and big men)
even advertised giant turkey legs wrapped in foil. (Real men
don't need napkins.)