Lumberjacks and jills square off nightly in show

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The Great Maine Lumberjack Show’s founder, “Timber Tina” Scheer, and Owen Probst, a senior at Finger Lakes Community College in upstate New York, go at it in the cross-cut sawing event. OUT & ABOUT PHOTOS BY PIPER CURTIN

“Cookies and noodles, cookies and noodles. That’s what we make here at Timber Tina’s,” logging legend Tina Scheer declared, holding up a round slice from a large log.

A cookie is the flat disc produced by sawing a chunk off a tree trunk section. Noodles are the thin slivers of wood created by the teeth of a cross-cut saw. “The longer the noodle the sharper the saw!” the veteran lumberjill, with a wink, informed her lively evening audience. Laughter erupted over the Great Maine Lumberjack Show’s expansive outdoor stage tucked in the woods off Route 3 in Trenton.

Mason Bishop demonstrates the technique of underhand chopping. He attends Finger Lakes Community College.

“Shows nightly at 7:00 RAIN OR SHINE” reads the roadside wooden sign directing vehicles down a dirt driveway leading to the outdoor timber sports arena. The hanging, painted log does not lie. A team of performers is ready every night, in all manner of weather, to entertain and show off their prowess and logging skills. The young men and women, who compete against each other in cross-cut sawing, underhand chop, log-rolling, tree climbing and more, keep the show-goers on the edge of their seats.

All the while, Timber Tina, owner, operator and the lumberjack show’s mastermind, tells the audience exactly what the jacks and jills are doing. The timber sport athletes she trains each summer make her proud. She also gets in the act herself.

Tina started log rolling, running atop floating logs, at the age of 7 in Hayward, Wis. Her single mother had signed her and her many siblings up for classes. She, her brothers, and sisters soon fell in love with timber sports and had a show of their own by the time they were teens. After 15 years in the family business, Tina “branched” and firmly put down her own “roots.” Twenty-seven years ago, she headed east and founded Trenton’s The Great Maine Lumberjack Show. She also started the traveling show, “Timber Tina’s World Champion Lumberjills — Chics with Axes.”

One of the first women to make waves in the traditionally male sport, Tina said she was told “to get back in the kitchen.”

“I was told I was making a mockery of the sport but it’s not like I ever did anything else,” she said. “It’s like you wanting to ride your bike.” At one Australian competition she says, “I told them I want to compete against your wife, your mom, your sister, your girlfriend, whatever.” The very next year, the organization introduced a lady choppers division.

For pole-climbing, the timber sport athletes use gaffers to grip the wood.

Nearing three decades this year, all the show’s performers — all young men this season — look up to Tina.

With his chainsaw, Finger Lakes Community College graduate John Bateman is shown cutting multiple slices from a hunk of tree trunk without any falling off.

“Isn’t he just the cutest ginger?” she teases one of her lumberjacks, John Bateman, as he runs out to the stage, ax in hand, ready to compete.

Later, as Mason Bishop competes in the pole-climbing event. Tina cheers him on, encouraging him practices the new skill.

Not every lumberjack or jill has the same skill set. Both traditional and more contemporary logging skills are woven into the show. Take the Peavey. Historically, the long, cast-iron hook was used for gripping and moving logs down rivers. In 1858, the Peavey was invented by Stillwater blacksmith Joseph Peavey. In its time, the device was a state-of-the-art tool.

The audience gets to see other old and new logging tools in action. Like a modified chainsaw and cross-cut saw. The former is faster and louder.

Owen Probst rapidly ascends a 40-foot pole. His personal record is nine seconds.

In her show, Tina pays tribute to both past and present loggers who are integral to Maine’s forestry heritage. The performances teach the public about little known facts and even the legendary Paul Bunyan. All the youngsters in the audience get to take turns trying out the large cross-cut saws with the assistance of lumberjacks.

So as Tina always tells the audience at the start of the show, find out who is the “bull of the woods, or the king of the forest.” Rain or shine, the show is performed daily at 7 p.m. through Sunday, Aug. 28. Better yet, sign up for lessons in log-rolling, ax-throwing and more. For more info, call 266-5486, email [email protected] and visit mainelumberjack.com.