Lumberjacks come alive in St. Paul

The Forestry Club organized the annual event on the St. Paul campus.

Jerret Raffety

Cutting logs, spitting chew and other events challenged students, staff and faculty members experiencing lumberjack life at Forester’s Day on campus Friday.

The annual event, organized by the Forestry Club, offered free food and games on the St. Paul campus.

Forestry Club member and first-year student Audrey Zahradka worked at the breakfast, at which approximately 100 people enjoyed pancakes, fruit, orange juice, milk and coffee.

“We just wanted to raise some awareness of Forester’s Day with the breakfast,” she said.

The event also had several types of maple syrup donated by department faculty member Carl Vogt, Zahradka said.

Some of the day’s events featured lumberjack competitions similar to those throughout the United States and Canada, said Josh Muchow, Forestry Club president.

Approximately 30 students competed this year, he said. More people than usual participated, because it was on a Friday this year, Muchow said.

Some lumberjacks compete professionally, but students could enjoy the lighter side, Muchow said.

“What makes these competitions fun is we can give up if we want to, but historically, workers were challenged to do this every day, no matter what the weather,” Muchow said.

Several games involved much stamina and strength. The Speed Chop was a race to cut a 6-by-6-inch piece of wood in half using an ax.

Matt Whitmore, a College of Natural Resources senior, managed to cut through in one minute and nine seconds.

“I’m not too concerned about winning,” Whitmore said. “It’s fun to participate and compete, but we’re not expecting too stiff a competition.”

Another popular game was the Buck Saw Race, a race to cut through a log in teams of two using a 5-foot saw with handles on each end.

Senior Andrew Fyten said technique and skill are needed to win.

“The tricky part was to keep the saw straight while cutting, (because) it will bend easy,” Fyten said.

Other events included splitting matchsticks with an ax, log carrying, log tossing and tobacco spitting.

Logs were donated by Cloquet Forestry Center in Cloquet, Minn., Muchow said. Wood was cut and shaved for the event by the department of biobased products, he said.

Forester’s Day is a tradition at the University that goes back to the 1930s, said Alan Ek, a department of forest resources professor.

“Loggers would have days where they’d take a break and celebrate what they’ve accomplished,” Ek said.