Loggers descend on Maine to take on tests of skill

Posted Aug. 15, 2010, at 10:21 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

GREENVILLE, Maine — Andrew Marquis maneuvered his chain saw Saturday through a marked log with near perfection, oblivious to the dozens of eyes that followed his every move.

The St. Agatha man, along with five other skilled loggers from Maine and Quebec, were in Greenville to compete in the Certified Logging Professional’s Game of Logging, held annually during Forest Heritage Days.

For loggers, the event is an opportunity to show the public their skills honed through years of experience. That opportunity is sweetened with a pot of money awarded to the one who gives the best performance in a variety of competitions including the bore cut, speed cut, spring pole and precision felling.

For the public, Forest Heritage Days, in its 20th year, gives people a better understanding of the history of Maine’s working forest, the jobs connected to it and the facts behind the arrangement whereby the public can use private land for recreation. The event is organized and staffed by local volunteers.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Zeph Pellietier of Holderness, N.H., who joined his parents at the event. “It’s fun to come out and enjoy something like this once in a while.”

Jonathan True of Catskill, N.Y., also thought the competition was fun to watch. “I think it’s great,” he said. His parents, George and Kathryn True, and his brother Rowan vacation in Greenville every year, but this was only the second time the Trues had attended the event.

This also was competitor Marquis’ second year of trying to place in the competition. While that is the ultimate goal of the competitors, the licensed arborist who specializes in large tree removals, said he also enjoyed the camaraderie.

“I like it, it’s a chance to get away and see the guys,” Marquis said Saturday. “It’s all fun and if we do a good job, its pays off.”

It did pay off for Chris Maxim of Wilton, who won the first-place cash prize of $1,000. Second place went to Rene Valcourt of Fort Kent who received a Dolmar 6300 chain saw, and third place went to Tyler McIntosh of Glenburn, who won Dolmar chaps, a cutting jacket and a hat.

Each year, the Certified Logging Professionals Program co-sponsors the regional Game of Logging, and the winner typically goes on to participate in the national competition. The program focuses on safety and skills and encourages loggers to “protect, enhance and sustain the fragile forest environment.”

“It’s to educate the public of the skills needed to success in the forest industry,” Yves Levesque of Fort Kent said Saturday. Levesque, a CLP instructor and one of the judges, finished his weeklong vacation of traveling through the state on a motorcycle at the event.

In addition to the Game of Logging, the event included a tour Friday of wood harvesting operations, an old-time logging demonstration by the Colby College woodsmen team and a craft fair.