Lenny and Bob Petkau work for their dad Henry in the bush near Atikokan. This Friday, they’ll be putting their skills to the test at the Emo Fair loggers competition.
They’ve been competing since 2021, and last year, got to take on their cousins, Jorden and Julien. That meant there were four Petkaus participating in the 2022 loggers competition.
“For me, it makes it a lot more enjoyable to do it with family and people I know well,” said Lenny. “It just kinda adds to the competition a little bit.”
Bob and Lenny were also able to convince their coworker Simon Dyck to join last year.
Dyck said it was Julien who helped him decide to compete — he didn’t want to be the only rookie and get completely blown out of the water. He ended up winning the rookie award over Julien.
“It was pretty cool. I mean, I didn’t place the highest, but we both went out there and tried as hard as we could,” said Dyck. “I think I only edged him out just by a bit, and he did a great job as well.”
Petkau said his favourite events are chair carving and pole felling since he enjoys working with a chainsaw. The chair carve is self-explanatory, but the pole felling is where loggers are given a chainsaw to cut an upright pole, and make it fall as close as they can to a target. The goal is for it to land directly on top.
Dyck mentioned the axe chop (also known as underhand chop) for his favourite — an event where participants straddle a log and must chop clean through it.
Other loggers events include speed power saw, two-man crosscut, Jack and Jill crosscut, bucksaw, pulpwood toss, axe throw, and water boil.
“What makes [the loggers competition] tough is the skill,” said Dyck. “It’s not necessarily the strongest man … but it’s skill and technique that really gets you far.”
While some of the events are physically challenging, most of them require a special touch. In axe throw, it’s timing, with underhand chop, it’s aim. And there’s nothing physical about the water boil, an event that makes participants light and construct a fire to make a pot of water boil over.
The diverse events even the playing field, and the most well-rounded logger will still end up on top.
“I really enjoyed it last year, I’m looking forward to doing it again,” said Lenny.
Last year, it was Jason Caul who earned the champion logger title, Gary Booth took home the safety award, while Dyck was named rookie of the year.
Catch the loggers competition at 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning in front of the grandstands at the 2023 Emo Fall Fair.