The chips will fly in Encampment this weekend as competitors from around the region gather for the town’s annual Woodchoppers Jamboree and Rodeo.
Participants will face off in a number of competitions based on skills common to the timber industry, such as sawing through logs using hand saws and power saws, wood splitting and axe throwing during the event.
Celebrating its 59th year, the celebration to be held Saturday and Sunday got its start when lumberjacks, unable to get into wooded areas because of wet conditions, would get together to compare skills, said Doreen Harvey, who organizes the woodchopping events with her husband Ron.
“When they were unable to work in the springtime … they thought it would be fun to get together for a competition,” she said.
Events such as the handsaw competitions grew from skills lumberjacks had to possess to bring lumber out of the forest, Harvey said.
“A lot of the competitions are based on what the timber industry used to be,” she said. “Handsawing and chainsawing are no longer the predominant way that they log.”
But competition by both men and women remains brisk, even though a number of participants are not involved in the timber industry.
“Some of them are just sportsmen who like to compete in things they are good at,” Harvey said.
Competitors come from a number of states, such as Colorado, South Dakota and Utah, in addition to Wyoming, she added.
Woodchopping events will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and will feature contests such as tree felling, using a handsaw, a team handsaw competition, using a chainsaw, axe throwing and pole throwing, where contestants are tasked with throwing a large piece of timber as far as they can.
Points are awarded in each competition and the man or woman with the highest point total at the end of the weekend will be named the Rocky Mountain Championship Lumberjack or Jumberjill.
Several events will also be held just for fun, Harvey said, such as the “Mad Loggers Chainsaw Throw,” where competitors attempt to throw a heavy replica of a chainsaw as far as they can — just as frustrated loggers do when their chainsaws won’t start. Plenty of activities will also be available for children, Harvey said, such as a greased pole climb, a sawdust pit and axe and pole throwing competitions for youngsters.
“We’re trying to keep it a family-friendly event,” she said.Wyoming Rodeo Association-sanctioned rodeos will also be held Saturday and Sunday.
“(The Woodchopper’s Jamboree) is a good side-by-side event for the rodeo,” Harvey said. “Rodeo is also a big thing in this town.”
Other event during the weekend include a pancake feed and parade on Saturday and a melodrama on both Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on the Woodchoppers Jamboree and Rodeo, visit https://www.wyomingcarboncounty.com/events/event-list/34-woodchoppers-jamboree-and-rodeo