The Ultimate Guide To Boonville’s 65th Woodsmen’s Field Days
When it comes to log rolling, tree cutting and chainsaws, there isn’t a better local option than the Woodsmen’s Field Days. Less than 45 minutes from Utica, Boonville’s pride and joy has been growing by leaps and bounds and is now celebrating its 65th year.
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday everyone is invited to make the trip to the Boonville Fairgrounds to see some of the biggest names in lumberjacking take the field in both feats of strength and unwavering athletic ability.
The Woodsmen’s Field Days began in 1948, when Rev. Frank Reed first held the event to raise money for the Woodsmen’s Club. More than 1,300 people attended the first celebration, raising $600. Now, the three-day competition and trade show attracts 40,000 visitors and is considered one of the top three lumberjack shows in the U.S.
Executive Coordinator, Phyllis White, says this year’s event has a little bit of everything.
“The wood craft show is a huge crowd pleaser for the ladies that maybe come with their husbands,” White said. “We have souvenirs, we have Adirondack rustic furniture, and we have all kinds of food concessions. It’s an action-packed weekend for the family.”
Boonville’s Woodsmen’s Field Days features an extraordinary amount of exhibits, chainsaw and other equipment vendors and wood craftsmen. And with five acres of space to work with, there is something to do for everyone.
There will also be plenty of displays, both today and tomorrow, including environmental conservation seminars, discussions regarding invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer, along with several other educational meetings.
But, the greatest part of the Woodsmen’s Field Days is the lumberjack games.
“These are seasoned professionals and they make their living doing this sport in a circuit, if you will,” White said. “They go around to other states and other shows, and in some cases, some have been on national sawyer teams going to New Zealand and Australia to world class competitions.”
This year’s competition has contestants from four different countries, including Canada, and the aforementioned Australia and New Zealand lumberjacks. The women’s open contest is scheduled for Saturday, with the men’s event taking over on Sunday. Both are free to attend, with the purchase of a $10 adult ticket or $7 children’s ticket.
Both men and women have the chance to earn wood chopping glory in both the New York State Open Lumberjack and the World’s Open Lumberjill Contests. Contestants work in several games, including axe throwing, log rolling and the one and two-man crosscuts.
Outside of the vendors and wood-based excitement are still the original reasons why the Woodsmen’s Field Days even exists; charity. This year, free skin cancer screenings will be provided by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, an affiliate of Bassett Healthcare Network. From nine until noon and from one until five on both Friday and Saturday, visitors can stop by and be screened for the disease.
In addition, the Log-A-Load campaign will be making an appearance at the event, raising money for New York’s Children’s Hospitals across the state, including Utica and Syracuse. The Log-A-Load booth has raffles, games and prizes, with at one chainsaw a day being given out.
But, White says the Woodmen’s Field Days wouldn’t be the same without honoring the people that helped carve out what makes the event what it is today. This year, the group remembers Gould Hoyt, who was considered “the voice” of the event and was involved with the group for more than 50 years. Although he passed away in June, Hoyt, who was a professor at Paul Smith’s College, has a scholarship set up in his name for students.
Also, this year’s Souvenir Program Book is being dedicated to George and Gail Kahler, the former owners of Rome-based George Kahler Sales. He and his wife, Gail, passed away earlier this year, but served as vendors for the event each year. Their son, Jeff Kahler, is still participating in this year’s Woodsmen’s Field Days.