The Woodsmen’s Festival

Timber-Felling Competition
Originally uploaded by kenf225

The gig yesterday at the Woodsmen’s Festival was great fun. The day started off with a vicious thunderstorm and torrential rain, but cleared into a near-perfect day by the time we did the sound check at 9:30. I played with the Belles Trio, who were alternating sets with two other bands including some other friends of ours from the Philadelphia area, and it was just a great day of listening to and playing music outdoors in a pretty spot.

We had a decent-sized crowd, but nothing like the chock-full bleachers around the field where the competitions were happening. The chainsaw races were loud, but the timber-felling was truly impressive. Not only do these guys bring down a sizeable tree (actually a log stood on end) with frightening dispatch, most of them land it on a small peg — it’s not just about speed, but also about accuracy.

This area of Pennsylvania (we were in Potter County) once had the largest sawmill in the country, and almost all the trees in the area are less than a hundred years old since just about every tree was cut down back in the 19th century. There are tours to go see the very few old-growth trees left. Apparently one of the reasons old trees were preserved, in small groves of a dozen or so, was in case of fire. You needed to save enough logs to rebuild your house if it burned down.

I spent today driving down through Pennsylvania and Maryland to West Virginia, for Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Festival. In other words, I’ll be surrounded by fiddles and banjos for a week. Luckily, there’s at least one other harmonica player here.

Time and connectivity allowing, I’m posting photos to Flickr.

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