Astoria Timber Festival Teaches Teens Logging Skills Through Competition

This past weekend featured the annual Astoria Timber Festival in Oregon, which celebrated the region’s timber heritage with an exciting day of activities and exhibits that showcased the industry from seedling and harvesting to finished product. New this year was a special focus on job and career opportunities in the logging and forestry industry. Logging companies attended in the hopes of looking for qualified job candidates.  

As Oregon Live summarized it, this was “not a strict competition, like the number of events they travel to around the state, the Astoria Timber Festival is more of a demonstration of what these kids can do. And as it turns out, their skills are good enough to make the local timber industry send recruiters in to snag them.”

The competition featured a myriad of skillful activities typical to Lumberjack events, including: Axe Throw, Cross-Cut, Powersaw, Log Rolling.  But this event featured practical skills specific to the timber industry as well, such as Cable Splicing and a Choker Race.  “Unlike the stereotypical lumberjack competitions, which usually involve some sharp metal tool and a big log, the cable splice highlights the tricky and intricate job of working with long, metal cables. At one small table, two teams of two work furiously to unravel a 5/8-inch cable (in the more advanced competitions the cable is 7/8 of an inch). The idea is to splice an eye into the wire rope to be able to attach it to something else. The teams use marlin spikes and hammers to work at the cable, and even the teenagers Saturday worked at a pace that was hard to keep up with.”

Also present was a Choker Race.  Competitors in the choker race run and leap over stationary logs to pick up the choker (basically a long cable with a hook attached), run it back over the logs, attach it to the log at the start, and race back to the finish line. How nimbly you can leap over logs is key in this competition. One competitor on Saturday cleared them like hurdles, leaping over top without touching the wood. As his opponent wasted time jumping onto, and leaping off of the logs, he cruised to the finish line.  You can see a video of the Choker Race here.  

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