With an international sport like this garnering so much attention, a small town of around 2,300 people has to swell. McNamer gave us the scoop on the population boom, “We are a vacation town…the lodging in town is gobbled up as well as the surrounding area – this event is a huge boost to our local economy. There are also many secondary homes and cabins up here so many people do lease those out as well if they are not using them.” Hayward is no stranger to the influx of tourism, over the years it has sort of developed just the right amount of infrastructure, like an elastic waistband, “With all our world-class events in this town we have always been able to handle a large amount of people over all of these years, so it has now been expected as to when the demand will be and people have learned to book a year in advance as well.”
These Lumberjacks and Jills aren’t just chopping on any old rotting stumps they can yank out of the ground either. McNamer gave us a peek into the process, “The cutting wood, is a huge partnership with the Menomonee Tribal Enterprises in central WI with the help of a tremendous sponsor of ours, Johnson Timber Company. They pick that wood in January or February…lathe turn it… it has to be saw-milled, and cut into the correct sizes no later than early July so that it can be kept moist and watered so that it doesn’t dry out.” They also have the special climbing trees for the pole climb, and we have the shortlist of what happens in that process: the trees are delimbed, debarked, railroaded to Minnesota, lathe turned within 1/100 of an inch of the same diameter, and then trucked to Hayward for use. Once there they put these 100 foot tall spar poles 10 feet in the ground to anchor them for the climbers.
The setups for these competitions are no joke, especially to the competitors. “They aren’t using axes that come out of Sears, they use custom made, sharpened axes and saws.” McNamer gave us a word on the competitors, “It’s a lot to get the right kind of wood and that brings the better competitors because they don’t want to go where they might ruin their $1,300 axe…you could seriously drop a piece of paper on the tips of those and it would split in half, they are that sharp.” They have to be extra careful with their pieces, “they ship them via checked baggage on the planes – they are packed extremely well, and as you can imagine it does provoke a lot of serious security looks!” It’s become, like McNamer described it, a “true American Sport” born out of necessity and turned into an international competition where the world’s best compete each summer. “It’s a great place to cross off your bucket list for viewing a slice of the American pie.” The 2016 Lumberjack World Championships are set to be held July 28-30th in Hayward, WI, take a drive up north and take in some of the Lumberjack spirit this summer.