The sound of the chainsaws revving, for many people, signifies the opening of the Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society’s annual fall fair in Emo.
For decades, loggers from across the district have gathered at the fair to demonstrate their skills and to take part in a series of friendly games.
This year was no different as eight loggers took part in the event Friday morning. The weather co-operated for at least a few hours and a large crowd turned out to see the experienced loggers compete for the prestigious title of “Champion Logger.”
This year’s competition consisted of the usual nine events: the chainsaw speed buck, the two-man crosscut, pole felling, chair carve, bucksaw, axe throw, pulpwood toss, axe chop, and toughest of them all, the tea boil.
This year, however, the organizers decided to add the “Jack and Jill” event to the usual list. Although the results did not count towards the overall standings, the female/male crosscut challenge—much to the delight of the crowd—attracted several competitors.
One female competitor who seemed to catch the audience’s attention was fair board president Emily Watson. She seemed eager to pitch in wherever she could in order to make this year’s fair a success.
When all was said and done, however, Kelvin Caul and his daughter, Jen, were the winners of this popular event.
Meanwhile, the competition for the top prize was extremely close this year. As the results were posted and announced for the first few events, it looked like the “crown” could go to any one of the top three or four loggers.
And by the time the first eight events were completed, only a few points separated the top three. It looked like the championship once would again come down to the infamous “tea boil.”
This is the event, the die-hard fans will tell you, where anything can happen. The loggers are given one piece of wood, a can of water, 10 matches, and a stick from which to hang their can.
The objective is to be the first to get your water to boil over.
It was extremely close as all four teams tried to get their “tea” to boil. In the end, it was the duo of Vandenberg and Caul who took first place.
They took turns blowing fiercely on the fire to get it hot enough so the water (with soap added) would boil over.
“Am I glad I quit smoking a couple of months ago,” remarked Caul as he and his partner fought to catch their breath.
The points garnered in that final event put Caul over the top and he was awarded the title of “Champion Logger” for 2009.
It is the 10th time Caul has won the title, which puts him in the same league as legendary local logger Gaston Godbout.
The “Safe Logger” award, for this year, went to Curtis Smith, who accumulated the most points for safety during each event.
The top three finishers of each event were as follows:
•Pole Fell—1. Orville Smith 2. Curtis Smith 3. Kelvin Caul
•Speed Buck—1. Orville Smith 2. Curtis Smith 3. Dwayne Loveday
•Axe Chop—1. Kelvin Caul 2. Dwayne Loveday 3. Wes Smith
•Axe Throw—1. Orville Smith 2. Kelvin Caul 3. Waylon Smith
•2 Man Cross—1. Wes Smith/Dwayne Loveday 2. Kelvin Caul/Randy Vandenberg 3. Waylon Smith/Dwayne Smith
•Pulp Toss—1. Kelvin Caul 2. Orville Smith 3. Curtis Smith
•Buck Saw—1. Dwayne Loveday 2. Kelvin Caul 3. Curtis Smith
•Chair Carve—1. Dwayne Loveday 2. Kelvin Caul 3. Orville Smith
•Tea Boil—1. Kelvin Caul/Randy Vandenberg 2. Dwayne Loveday/Wes Smith 3. Orville Smith/Curtis Smith
Announcer Robin McCormick thanked the volunteers from AbitibiBowater for taking the time to organize and run this year’s loggers’ competition. She also thanked the numerous businesses from across the district for donating so many great prizes.
There were prizes for first, second, and third place in each event, as well as special ones for the “Champion” and “Safe” loggers.
Everyone seemed to go home with some incredible prizes.
The loggers gathered afterwards to meet with family and friends, and to take some pictures before packing up their gear for another year.
The Rainy River District Logging and Safety Association’s competition, held in conjunction with the Emo Fair, has recorded results as far back as 1985.
However, it seems the competition started some time before that date.
If anyone has any information or pictures from the period prior to 1985, you are invited to get in touch with someone from the association or the fair board.