COEUR d’ALENE — Chain saws whirred and sawdust flew Friday afternoon at the North Idaho State Fair, under a blazing sun.
The heat didn’t wilt the cheering crowd that filled the stands to watch the day’s first lumberjack show, where two professional lumberjacks put their skills to the test.
“The crowds have been great, despite the weather,” said Chet Isaacson, who hosted the contest. “It’s lovely.”
Lumberjack sports grew out of competitions in lumber camps that aimed to determine the most skilled woodcutters.
Today, these contests celebrate the history of forestry and keep lumberjack traditions alive.
Nick Hastedt, the winner of Friday’s first contest, has been involved in the sport since he was a kid in the small town of Hayward, Wis.
“I grew up around the sport,” he said.
Back home, he said, adults simply tossed kids into the lake to teach them logrolling, a sport where two contestants stand on a floating log and try to knock each other off.
Hastedt and his competitor, Chas Haas, dunked each other in the pool while logrolling Friday afternoon.
They also squared off in events like ax throwing, speed cutting and springboard cutting, where the lumberjacks scaled a 9-foot pole and chopped a 12-inch block.
A professional lumberjack for about a decade, Hastedt said he enjoys traveling the country and showing off his hard-earned skills to audiences.
Mountainous North Idaho is an especially beautiful place to visit, he said.
The contests aren’t all about woodcutting, though. The lumberjacks crack as many jokes for the crowd as they do logs.
“Entertaining people is a lot of fun,” Hastedt said with a smile. “It’s good to see and adults enjoying the same corny jokes.”
The North Idaho State Fair runs through Aug. 28.
Fairgoers can catch the lumberjack show today, along with carnival rides and games, a blacksmithing demonstration, magic shows and more.