World Lumberjack Championships - Hayward, Wisconsin

The World Lumberjack Championships is where athletes from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and China square off in some of the burliest competitions the AFP witnessed. For a few top competitors, a major percentage of their income comes from these lumberjack “shows.” But for most of the athletes competing, the games are about honoring a family tradition, excelling as an athlete, and remembering a pastime.

The Lumberjack Bowl takes place on a small finger of Lake Hayward, that used to hold thousands of board feet ready to be stripped, ripped, and planed. Nearly 12,000 spectators flood in over three days to see the world’s best in log rolling, boom running, pole climbing, the under hand chop, the single buck, the double buck, the standing chop block, and the springboard. Basically, if you can think of a way to cut, climb, or cross a piece of wood, then it’s an official event here at the Lumberjack Championships.

At these games, there is an undeniable reverence for the tradition of lumberjacking. The axemen, woodsmen, and lumberjacks have passed their skill, technique, and appreciation for athletic excellence down through a family line. But don't expect these “lumberjacks” to be bearded and plaid-shirted woodsmen; these are top-notch athletes who practice and train year round. Unfortunately, there may not be another 50 years of lumberjack championships left as the future of the sport and its history grows increasingly distant. Nevertheless, these are athletes of the highest caliber and the AFP would love to see the skill and integrity demonstrated, if not the actual championships, live on in perpetuity.