Woodsmen’s Days soak up the sunshine

TUPPER LAKE – The 33rd-annual Woodsmen’s Days went off without a hitch.

“I’m encouraged; we’ve had a steady stream of people coming through the front gate all day,” said Carrie Snye, secretary of the Tupper Lake Woodsmen’s Association. “At one point it was just overwhelming.”

It was a good kind of overwhelming, though.

Snye said vendors at the event were thrilled with the turnout, and one vendor, Peterbilt Motors Company, even sold a tractor trailer.

“It’s the first time they brought a tractor trailer here in years,” Snye said. “I think they’ll be bringing one next year, too.”

The Woodsmen’s Association has been in charge of the Woodsmen’s Days for 30 years. Snye has been in the association since the beginning, but was more involved this year than ever before. Her goal was to create renewed interest in the event by focusing the day’s activities on things that are strictly part of the logging industry.

“This is the life blood of this town,” Snye said. “We can’t lose it.”

Even though it was his first time participating in the event, Jay Hunt, executive chef of the new Smoking Horseshoe Barbecue and Catering, made a killing.

“I sold out of food twice,” Hunt said. “Literally, everything went today.”

Hunt hopes the event drums up business for his restaurant’s soft opening on Wednesday at 5 p.m. He spent the day smoking ribs, pork butt and chicken and standing over a hot grill, slathering his offerings with homemade barbecue sauce.

He recently moved to the area from Albany, and said the last round of micro enterprise grants received by Tupper businesses made opening the restaurant possible.

“That grant has given people like me a chance,” Hunt said. “If more people take an interest, Tupper Lake could be a really cool place.”

Even though he welcomed the business, Hunt said he hopes he can have a little more competition next year.

“I’d love to get a barbecue cook-off going,” Hunt said. “If you combine that with Woodsmen’s, you could get 3,500 people down here.”

When they weren’t eating, attendees spent the day watching chainsaw carving, heavy equipment demonstrations and horse pulls, all under a sunny July sky. But the day’s events were only part of the action.

Soon after the sawdust settled, the night games began.

Hundreds packed the bleachers as children lined up to shimmy across a greased log while others tested their balance and climbing skills on the obstacle course.

Ryley Hill of Tupper Lake made short work of the greased log, and clung to the soapy wood with one arm as he slapped the pole marking the finish line.

“That was fun,” a wet, winded Hill said. It was Hill’s second consecutive year tackling the greased log, and he said he did better than last year.

“It’s still hard, though,” he added.

After the obstacle course, a full-on tug-of-war ensued, first between the children, and then between adults, followed by a log-stacking competition. And as the last of the sun’s rays stretched across the dusty outdoor stadium, the rambunctious spectators became energized for the main event – the greased pole climb.

Teams consisting of five men each grappled and maneuvered to the top of a 40-foot pole, all striving to ring the bell at the top.

In the end it came down to a time trial between Girouard’s Monsters and Team Dozer, who won the event with a time of 34:37 seconds.

Shaun Kittle can reached at 891-2600 ext. 25 or