A Look at a Modern Paul Bunyan and the Wood Choppers Festival

Living in a state where natural resources drive the economy, we see more than our fair share of loggers, forester, natural gas and oil drillers and coal miners. Many of us live off the land in more ways than one. Our families work farms, fall timber, mine coal, manage natural gas lines and wells. We hunt, fish, forage, farm and garden to support this way of life. Many live in tiny towns and hamlets that are lost to cell phone service and  are more than an 30 minute drive to a shopping mall. It is in here in the Appalachian Mountains that the WORLD (yes, I do mean World) converges every year over Memorial Day weekend to see who is really the best at their chosen forest craft. The Wood Choppers Festival is a way for anyone interested in forestry, logging, milling and history to enjoy the company of over 150 men and woman who call the Logging life style a passion.

Competitors prepare for the Spring Board competition

Competitors prepare for the Spring Board competition

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wood Choppers Festival  held in the remote town called Webster Springs, West Virginia. This festival is full of axes, saws and fun that show cases the very best of the logging world. Contestants travel from all over the world to spend the weekend competing and sharing their love. The front man in the above photo is a world champion in this event (Spring Board) and travels here every year from Australia. Many of them come from Canada and Europe to see who can really be a modern Paul Bunyan.

Christopher Powers with a Paul Bunion sign at the 2014 Wood Choppers Festival

Christopher Powers with a Paul Bunyan sign at the 2014 Wood Choppers Festival

 

This is for any one who does not know the American Folk Tail character Paul Bunyan and for those who remember seeing this as a kid. I think it is funny that in the song “Paul Bunyan” playing throughout the video Paul is only  6′ 3″ and the man in the above photo is the tallest competitor at 6′ 5″ and a leaner version of Paul.

 

The final day begins with an ax tossing contest and continues through out the afternoon with the standing log, Hot saws and the two-man cross-cut saw contests. Then after the competition many of the choppers visit with the fans, share hardy hand shakes and spend time telling tall tails to one another. At end of the long day the winners of the “World Titles” get announced  and awards are given.

Ax tossing at world finals 2014

Ax tossing at world finals 2014

Spring Board comperitor from New York state at 2014 wood choppers festival

Spring Board competitor from New York state at 2014 wood choppers festival

Winner of Spring Board competetion 2014 Mike Cogar of Webster Springs, West Virginia

Winner of Spring Board competition 2014 Mike Cogar of Webster Springs, West Virginia

Standing Log Chop 2014

Standing Log Chop 2014

 

Australian World Champion wood chopper

Australian World Champion wood chopper

Single man cross cut saw  competition 2014

Single man cross-cut saw competition 2014 Mike Cogar of Webster Springs, West Virginia

cross cut saw finals 2014 Webster Springs, WV

cross-cut saw finals 2014 Webster Springs, WV

 

3 cut Hot Saw competitor

3 cut Hot Saw competitor

 

Christopher watching with some of the competitors

Christopher watching with some of the competitors

 

 

Jack and Jill contest 2014

Jack and Jill contest 2014

Norwegian competitor signing a piece of wood for Christopher 2014 age 5

Norwegian competitor signing a piece of wood for Christopher 2014 age 5

 

Today the over all world Champion was actually a local young man from Webster Springs, West Virginia, Mike Cogar. He comes from a long line of wood choppers who were born and raised in the mountains here. Just like Tom and his Grandfather the love of the woods passes from one generation to another.

Thomas Benton Powers logger in Pocahontas county West Virginia

Thomas Benton Powers logger in Pocahontas county West Virginia

 

Thomas A Powers sharing his love of the woods with Christopher T Powers the 7th generation to call West Virginia home

Thomas A Powers sharing his love of the woods with Christopher T Powers the 7th generation to call West Virginia home

 

Mike and his world-renowned family(both his father and grand father are world champions also) have been major supporters of this tiny town and this competition. It was such a pleasure to met them and share a day with all the wonderful people of this mountain town. It was wonderful to learn more about what it must have been like for my husbands grandfather who worked and lived in the timber camps at the turn of the century. Working with more axes then saws and trying to cut the big timber down to size.The spirit of Paul Bunyan is alive and well here in the woods of West Virginia.

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, family fun, logging, natural resources, Photos, Webster Springs, West Virginia, Wood Choppers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “A Look at a Modern Paul Bunyan and the Wood Choppers Festival

  1. Beautiful pictures. My wife and I went to a Logging festival near Seattle, WA while on our honeymoon, it was a great day and this post brings back some good memories. Also, the Paul Bunyan video is one that we rented often when our daughter was little (remember when you drove to a store and rented VHS tapes?). Thanks for the info, pictures and memories.

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  2. That’s quite a story! Bet this post was fun to photo & write.

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  3. Jolynn, I just came across this news about ramps and WV. Thought it was a cute read, so I wanted to share: http://modernfarmer.com/2014/06/inside-ramp-capital-world/

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    • we gather our ramps on a friends small farm. Where they started seeding and sprouting ramps about 10 years ago. If I ever get a large enough place our family will do the same. I also worry about the future of Ramps and our state may one day find that they have to stop the digging for wild one altogether but for now privet property is free game and their is lots and lost of it here!

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  4. That was me way back in forestry school at Texas A&M University in 1976!

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  5. JoLynn, I just love this post! Your photos are great and the story fantastic. So glad that Mike won. My husband and I are from Kentucky (he’s a native, I’m a high school transplant 🙂 ) and we saw similar events many years ago, so you brought back some wonderful memories. West Virginia is such a gorgeous place, and obviously a great place to live. All the best, Terri

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    • Terri where in Kentucky do you live.. .it is one of the only other places on the planet I would ever want to call home we spend a lot of time their on vacations. My husband also went to Farrier school at Mount Eden never Lexington spent a about 6 weeks learning the trade. Thanks for stop by and I cant wait to read more of your blog also.. the photos are wonderful…

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  6. Jolynn, we’re living on the Georgia coast now, but my husband, James, grew up in Glasgow, KY (near Bowling Green) and my family moved there when I was a senior in high school. So we’re high school sweethearts, and went on to the University of KY in Lexington. Thanks for the kind words. 🙂 ~Terri

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  7. Pingback: Into the East: 10 Links You’ll Love | GALLIVANCE

  8. Thanks really enjoyed reading this. Very colourful and atmospheric. Makes me want to visit soon. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (drop a nickel).

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    • Thom thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog… and thanks for seeing my photos in such a wonderful way… I would have never thought of them as atmospheric but it really dose fit.

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  9. Hi JoLynn,
    We just love this post and wanted to let you know that we featured a link to it today as part of our “Slice of Americana Series” that we’re running this July. You can check it out at the link below. Thanks for your beautiful writing and photos!

    All the best, Terri & James

    http://gallivance.net/2014/07/26/into-the-east-10-links-youll-love/

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    • Wonderful! I am so glad that my blog is showing off a slice of American life that some people will never get to see. Thank you for you support and I will be looking over the others links soon.

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  10. I always enjoy the wood choppers competitions at our county fairs. Work hard – play hard!

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  11. This is such a good post — lots of good information and great pics, too! Never heard of this festival, but I’d love to go there now. Glad Gallivance posted the link so I could get to know you better. Best wishes for much continued success. http://ohtheplaceswesee.com

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    • thanks for stopping by and looking at one of the fun things my family gets to enjoy here in WV. hope to get time to look over all your adventures also. It is nice to meet you Rusha

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