Swinging saws at Loggers Games in Maynooth
Young and old alike came out to the Maynooth Fall Fair at the Loggers Field over the Labour Day long weekend for some good old-time country fun. For 22 years folks have been coming together to celebrate the culture and history of the region with traditional loggers games, demonstrations, food, music, and dancing.
The weekend started off with a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, followed by the Loggers Parade. Throughout the day, participants enjoyed displays by the Fall Fair Horticultural Society, relaxed in the beer garden, and found goodies at the farmers market. During the main attraction, the Loggers' Games, contestants showed off their sawing skills in tree felling, skidder and loader, chair carving, speed cutting, and cross sawing events. Traditionally popular with men, the competitions had a record number of female contestants this year.
"I guess it's kind of a male dominated sport," admitted Cally Langridge, who came in third in the chair sawing event. "I was 13 when I started competing."
Langridge is from Marlbank and in her third year of college. She said chain saws aren't especially trendy with her girlfriends at college, but that she has a great time competing in Loggers' Games. She and her brother, who wasn't able to attend the event, both compete, alongside their dad Bill Langridge.
"It's always nice to beat him," laughed Langridge, speaking of her Dad, who she says has more than 100 chain saws at home.
"We do a lot of competitions. The saws we use in them are a lot different than the ones we use in the bush."
Contestant used their skills in precision, speed, accuracy and always safety while competing. Afterward, the finished products from the chair carving contest were auctioned off, along with long wooden benches made on site by John Foreman, and a giant bear sculpture created by Fred Primeau and Paul Burton. All proceeds from the auctions were donated to the Shriners' Children's Hospital, who accepted the generous donation with happy thanks.
"I used to come up here and watch the loggers years ago, so it's a real honour to be involved," said Primeau, while working on his bear. He has been carving for over 25 years, turning logs into beautiful sculptures of Canadian wildlife with an assortment of chain saws and grinders.
There were other obvious talents at the event other than sawing. The always popular Freshwater Trade Celtic band treated the public to logging tunes, while vendors sold their home-made wares at the farmers market.
"I could quit baking in an instant," said Sally Thompson, "but I love canning." She sold her homemade pickles, relishes, and jellies along with some baked goods.
"I get so much satisfaction from canning," she said. "I know my family is eating good food without any pesticides or additives." Thompson explained that while her canning demands are too great to grow all her own ingredients, she gets fruits and vegetables from other community members and only uses organic. She learned her techniques as a girl from her grandmother 45 years ago, and is currently passing the tradition on to her niece. According to Thompson, the best piece of advice she can impart to novice canners is to can your goods as soon as possible after harvesting.
Later in the day awards were given out for each of the games categories. Matt Wheeler, who won Top Logger of the day took home the most coveted award: a brand new chain saw.
"It's an excellent saw," said Wheeler, beaming. "I'm very happy about it. I had no idea walking in here today that I'd win, but I did the best I could."
"It was a great day," said Loggers Games committee member Dave Mallard, "right from the parade this morning until now. Everyone should give themselves a hand."
Saturday finished off with a dance featuring the band Country Paragon, and the next day the popular Maynooth Mud Dawgs Mud Run commenced at noon, for its sixth year in a row. The weekend wrapped up with a turkey dinner on Sunday, for all those who worked up an appetite swinging saws and stomping feet.