“Finally, you get your face a little wet,” said Colin Riley, 5, as he watched his brother Sean, 10, fall off the spinning cedar log and plunge into the pool.
The two boys were taking lumberjack lessons at the arena “Timber Tina” Scheer built in the woods of Trenton as a venue for her Great Maine Lumberjack Show, now in its 16th year. During the summer, the show runs each evening at 7, and on some days, children arrive early for lessons in logrolling, axe throwing and crosscut sawing.
Rob and Amy Riley of New Jersey learned about the lessons online and decided to work it into their Maine vacation. Friends Christy and Andrew Barone also brought their three children to learn skills of the logging trade.
“Rob, take a picture of Sean’s face. I’ve never seen him laughing like that,” said Christy Barone, pointing to Sean as he balanced on the rotating log, which was covered in blue carpet to add friction and cushioning.
“Apparently, we’ve found a passion of his — logrolling,” said Sean’s mother, Amy Riley, laughing.
Scheer began logrolling at age 7 in her hometown, Hayward, Wis., home of the Lumberjack World Championships. Each day, she and her brothers would walk three miles to the logrolling pond, where tourists would watch them balance on bobbing, turning logs, gripping the wet bark with their bare feet.
“There was always 10 to 20 kids there,” said Scheer. “It was a reenactment scene of a logging camp, and they had a restaurant. We had so much fun. We were in the water, out of the water, and then we’d go over to the lumberjack camp and hang out there. If we had enough money, we’d buy a cookie.”
At a young age, she began teaching others and began picking up other logging sports such as crosscut, overhand chop, speed climbing and axe throwing to perform in her family’s logging sports show. For years she competed in logging sports and honed her skills as an athlete and announcer.
With an itch to strike out on her own, she picked Trenton as an ideal place for her own show.
“You couldn’t just plop it in the middle of anywhere,” Scheer said. “This state is where logging really developed. This is where people came to get the lumber to build our country, the place the Queen of England would send her navy to get the tall ship masts for her fleet.”
Three universities in Maine have official logging sport teams, including the University of Maine Woodsmen’s Team, which competes against other United States and Canadian college teams. Some of her summer employees come straight from these college teams, while sometimes she simply trains eager locals in the variety of logging sports to become a part of her act.
Logrolling instructor Jeremy Vroom, 18, of Bangor, was taught by Scheer and is now performing in the show for his second summer. He stood in the pool and told the children three key things to remember while logrolling.
Look at the other end of the log for balance. Use your arms to balance. And move your feet in a pitter-patter motion, removing your weight from the log at all times.
Emma Barone, 8, released the hand of her brother Bobby, 10, as she gingerly stepped on the log and positioned herself sideways, moving her feet to maintain balance as the log started to turn.
The sea creatures on Colin’s blue swim shorts shook as he wrapped his arms around himself waiting for his turn. They had been logrolling for a while, and it had begun sprinkling. When asked why he was still logrolling, he said: “I just got out of my towel … I love it. I like falling.”
The two sisters, Emma and Hannah, 6, called it quits when the sprinkle turned to a steady rain.
“I know they’ll move to Maine and join the [Great Maine Lumberjack Show] team because they love logrolling,” Emma said to her mom and sister Hannah, 6, as they sat sheltered on the bleachers and she watched the boys fall off the log over and over again until Vroom corralled them to the bleachers.
Colin’s teeth chattered as he stood and allowed his father to wrap a towel around his waist and pull an enormous orange “Bar Harbor” sweatshirt over her head.
“We’re good climbers,” said Colin, looking up at the two 90-foot cedar poles that the lumberjacks would speed climb later that evening at the show. “So we might climb up to the top of there.”
Laughing, his parents hustled off to the car.
As the sun sank behind the evergreens, Tiki torches were lit to illuminate the arena, and Vroom turned up the fiddle and banjo music. People moved between milk pails filled with marigolds to buy popcorn at the Sugar Shack, a log building that Scheer built with the help of carpenters. She also built the equipment shack and the Cabin, a gift store by the road.
“In the beginning, I don’t think people understood what I was doing,” said Scheer. “Even though Maine is a birthplace of logging in America, nobody knew what a lumberjack show was. People wondered: ‘How do you show a lumberjack?’”
The show gained popularity by word of mouth, and for years, attendance has been good.
“The smallest audience I’ve seen was 15 or 20 people, and that was during a downpour,” said Vroom.
About 100 people settled down in the stands that evening.
The show began with “Yo Ho!” The four athletes, Scheer, Vroom, Ethan Klein and Ed Hovath, stood on thick logs for the underhand chop, striking down between their feet, which are sheathed in chainmail socks. Wood chips flew into the air as they worked their way through the logs. Then it was on to crosscut saws and chain saws.
“Speed climbing is the most challenging,” said Vroom, who raced Klein up the 90-foot posts that night in an event that simulates tree climbing. “And axe throwing takes a long time to be consistent.”
Sean and Colin sat at the far end of the bleachers to be as close as possible to the logrolling event, the finale.
The boys watched with admiration as Klein and Vroom rocked the log to throw each other off. Klein dipped his foot and kicked water at Vroom, fair game as long as he didn’t reach across the red line at the center of the log. At last, they both fell, Vroom and then Klein, the log spinning rapidly. Logrollers always get their faces a little wet.
The Great Maine Lumberjack Show starts at 7 p.m. every night from mid-June through Labor Day Sunday and last for just over an hour. Admission is $10.25 for adults, $9.25 for seniors, $6.75 for children and free for children 4 and under. For information on the Great Maine Lumberjack Show, located at 127 Bar Harbor Road, Trenton, call 667-0067, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mainelumberjack.com.