The New York State Lumberjacks  Association began in December, 1971 with a group of 11 men led by Pete Vroman making a motion to “work as an association as well as individuals to promote interest and to try and better the sport of lumberjack competition”.  It was originally organized as a chapter of the Northeast Lumberjack Association.  The first official meeting in January, 1972 at Wilders Coffee Shop in Fultonville, NY drew 39 members who elected officers and board members to create by-laws and rules for competition.

NYSLA 1972 Newspaper Clipping

NYSLA 1972 Newspaper Clipping

The first competition was held at the gym at Fonda-Fultonville School on January 22, 1972 at 8 p.m. to benefit the Fonda-Fultonville Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  Events included “men’s and ladies’ spike driving, husband and wife crosscut sawing and professionals competing in sawing and chopping”.

At the annual meeting in 1973 “women came to the meeting to talk about the Booster Club”.  They presented fund raising ideas with “money made to be in a fund for medical expenses if needed for an association member”.  Fundraising included sweatshirt, t-shirt and patch sales, raffles for various items including handmade bedspreads, ice coolers, lounge chairs and axes.  They also held dinner dances for members and their guests.  For a short time they produced a newsletter entitled “Chips and Sawdust” that was distributed to members and created mimeographed booklets to sell for $0.25 at shows.  The booklets described the competition events and gave a brief biography on each competitor.

Early competitions were held in Fonda, Wells, Jefferson, Cedarville, Stony Creek and Andes. They focused on six core events: axe throw, chopping, log rolling, chain saw, buck saw and cross-cut sawing. Early women’s events included: Ladies Spike Driving, Ladies Rolling Pin Throw, jack and jill crosscut and buck saw.   Competitors were required to arrive 2-3 hours before the event to sign up, cut up the wood, draw numbers for the wood and establish heats.

The Association grew as did the demand for shows.  In 1976 (the Nation’s Bicentennial) there were a record 17 shows across the state!  In January, 1976, motion was made by Elsie Dibble that “women be allowed to compete in shows.  Discussion followed with decision to have men of the association or men setting up show decide on this matter.”  In March, 1976 a Certificate of Incorporation was filed for the NYSLA under section 402 of the not-for-profit corporation law by Richard L. Slingerland.

To produce a show in the first decade, organizations contracted with the NYSLA and agreed to pay a fee of $500 and provide approximately 15  12’ cants of 8×8 white pine and an irregular 14’ log for rolling.  In 1986 the price went up to $1000 per show plus timber.  Now show organizers seek local businesses to provide prize money for a wide variety of events as well as sponsoring announcers, head judges and scorekeeping.

In recent years attention has been given to making our shows enjoyable for our spectators and attracting new members.  The original six events are still found at most competitions, but fans can now watch springboard, single-buck, felling, standing block chop and a variety of chain saw classes from stock to hotsaws.  Women’s events with separate prize money are found at all NYSLA shows.  Juniors events are offered when there is demand.  Handicapped chopping has been introduced to allow for a wide range of skill levels. There is also an amateur competition linked to our professional event in Macedon Center.