June 19, 2019
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The story behind Maine’s Timber Tina and her lumberjack show

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Wood chips fly as "Timber" Tina Scheer (left) shows Sam Smith how to prepare a log for the underhand chop during practice for The Great Maine Lumberjack Show in Trenton.

Every summer as my family and I drove back and forth from Acadia National Park, we would pass by the same souvenir stores and lobster pounds that were staples along Route 1A. But there was always one place that I was desperate to visit: Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show in Trenton.

Born and raised in Maine, I knew of the rich logging history of our state and how Maine was the birthplace of the lumberjack legend, Paul Bunyon (sorry Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin). But what exactly was a Lumberjack Show?

A few years ago, I finally went and it was nothing like I had expected. A group of Lumber “Jacks” and “Jills”, led by Timber Tina Scheer, then famous to me as the woman from “Survivor: Panama,” demonstrated a number of lumberjack sports from log rolling and log climbing, to ax throwing and crosscut sawing.

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In between events, Timber Tina explained the history of the Maine logging industry and the different tools and materials used to make such a show possible. She taught us the official Lumberjack call “YO-HO,” which my family will use on occasion today.

Only in Maine can you see a show like this.

Tina Scheer: From Wisconsin to Maine

Scheer grew up in Hayward, Wisconsin, the home of the annual Lumberjack World Championship, which was started in 1960. When Scheer was 7 years old, her mother Joann signed up Scheer and her five older siblings for logging lessons. Those lessons soon turned into a lifelong passion for Scheer.

“As little kids, that’s all we ever did. We would log roll every day, all summer long,” Scheer said.

Forty years ago, Scheer and her two brothers decided to start Scheer’s Lumberjack Show in Hayward. Tina played the “little sister” role in that show for 15 years. They began participating in traveling shows and fairs where their hobby turned into a year-round profession.

The family show, still going on today, expanded and now includes two more shows in Wisconsin, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan, Alaska, and Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show, which Tina started in Trenton in 1996.

Tina’s first experiences with Maine came in the early 1970s, when the Scheers visited Bar Harbor during the summers. With the booming tourism from Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor and the logging history of Maine, Scheer knew growing her business in Trenton was a match for her and purchased 35 acres of land for the project when she left the family show.

Scheer said it took a lot of promotion and dedication to get the show up and running. “I grew up in [the] industry. I took for granted that people would know what [a Lumberjack Show] was.”

One thing that helped get the word out was the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series on ESPN. Scheer’s Show served as the host site in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001. Announcer Tommy Sanders would also do a Saturday morning block for his show, ESPN Outdoors, from Bar Harbor, Acadia and the surrounding areas, helping to promote the area and the business. Scheer served as Master of Ceremonies for the series for 15 years from 1990 until 2004.

What is a Lumberjack Show?

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Participants practice for the season opening of The Great Maine Lumberjack Show in Trenton.

Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show, which runs a little over an hour, showcases 12 different lumberjack sports such as log rolling, underhand chopping, pole climbing, ax throwing crosscut sawing and power hot sawing. Throughout the show, Scheer and her crew explain each sport and how it relates to lumbering in Maine. Between 50 and 250 people attend every show, which run rain or shine.

Scheer starts preparing the Lumberjack Show site in mid-April, about two months before the first show. She clears away the downed trees, trims the driveway, rakes, repairs and prepares the tools needed.

Most of the trees she and her crew use are poplar and come from the Ellsworth Log Yard. The perfect tree to chop on, Scheer said, is one with fresh wood that’s soft. She said they get the fresh wood, water it and cover it to keep it soft and makes sure it stays good for as long as possible. The crew also uses western red cedar trees for climbing and rolling as they float better than any timber.

Scheer said they use up to roughly 16 feet of wood a day and they cut and sell to local campers.

Scheer’s team undergoes training a couple of times a week for six weeks to learn each event. Everyone has to learn a script, as the show focuses on family entertainment. Scheer said she has had a few high schoolers, a school teacher and local blacksmith participate in the show.

Scheer also holds Lumber “Jack” and “Jill” lessons for those who want to learn some of the events featured in the show. Participants can choose to take a log rolling lesson or learn the “full lumberjack experience” by adding crosscut saw and ax throwing to the lesson.

When not in season, Scheer is on the road with her Chicks with Axes group which performs indoors or down South during the winter. Scheer said she no longer does summer shows away from the site anymore; however, tourists can see Scheer and her crew showcasing their skills during the annual Fourth of July parade in Bar Harbor.

The future of lumber sports

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Lumberjacks Eric Goode (left) and Jack Weeks practice speed climbing at The Great Maine Lumberjack Show in Trenton. The participants of "Timber" Tina Scheer's show agree that climbing up the approximately 50-foot-tall poles can be unnerving.

Beyond lumberjack shows, there are competitions. Scheer used to compete in Australia, Africa and Germany — back when it was a men’s sport. But after a couple years of entering men’s events, women’s woodchopping events were added.

“It was hard,” Scheer said. “I went there to compete because they didn’t have women there and I wanted them to.”

Today, lumberjack competitions are held throughout the world. Scheer no longer competes, but she is still active in an advisory role. She said a majority of competitors today are from local colleges and universities.

Logging, once a popular occupation in Maine, is in decline these days as demand for paper products and paper has dwindled. But Scheer said that the history and athleticism of the profession remains in the shows and competitions. Her show is a part of that.

“It’s a privilege for us to have people come see the show and laugh, enjoy it and learn something,” Scheer said. “I like to be able to carry on the tradition from the Maine lumberjacks and have people enjoy it.”

Scheer said that the show continues to grow every year and more tourists, and Mainers, have continued to come. Entering her 24th year as the head of Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show, Scheer shows no signs of slowing down.

“I’m going to keep doing it until I don’t do it anymore,” she said. “Most people call me the energizer bunny.”

Watch: I successfully logrolled like a lumberjack — for 6 seconds

Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack show will open 7 p.m. June 15-Aug. 25 at 127 Bar Harbor Rd. Tickets are $13 adults, $12 seniors (63+), $9 children (4-11), free for children ages 4 and under, available online, at the door or at the site’s Blue Ox Gift Shop.

This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s June/July 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

 



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