ROSELAND — Lumberjacks and lumberjills from across the country competed Saturday in Nelson County in the first-ever Backbone Lumberjack Classic, hosted by Devils Backbone Brewing Company in celebration of its newest brew.
Scooter Cogar, professional lumberjack sports competitor, partnered with Devils Backbone for the event. A Blackstone native and Virginia Tech alum, Cogar said he was excited to expose area residents to lumbersports.
“This is still home to me,” Cogar said. “Being part of bringing this sport to Nelson County means a lot to me.”
Cogar said Saturday’s event was the second professional lumberjack event to happen in Virginia in the past decade.
The competition was organized into six shows with eight events — such as springboard, hot saw and standing block chop — in each show. Saturday’s competition used overstock white pine from West Virginia, which Cogar said will be recycled into firewood.
In springboard, competitors move their way up a pole by carving out pockets, inserting their boards and climbing up, before cutting a block at the top of the pole.
In the hot saw event, lumberjacks slice through wood with custom-built saws with blades that move hundreds of miles per hour. Saturday’s event featured hot saws made with engines from motorcycles and one made with a snowmobile engine.
The event attracted a crowd of around 2,000 patrons, including both Nelson County residents and folks who traveled a bit farther for the occasion.
Rodney and Stacey Newton drove more than an hour from Victoria for Saturday’s competition. Stacey Newton said her father used to be involved in lumberjack sports, so when they saw the event was being put on, they “had to stop by.”
Rodney Newton said it would be tough to choose a favorite event.
“They’re all really neat to see,” he said.
Kimberly Oakley, director of marketing for Devils Backbone, said the brewing company launched Backbone Premium Lager earlier this year and hosted the competition in celebration of the new beer.
“We’re always trying to bring business into Nelson County,” Oakey said. “We want people to come here to experience how beautiful it is and really fall in love with it as much as we have. And, there’s never been a craft brewery, as far as we know, in history that has ever done a lumberjack competition, so we were like, ‘Let’s be the first.’”
While the family-friendly event attracted mostly adult patrons, Cogar said he was most excited to see the children enjoying the competition.
“I just hope that young girls can see the women competitors and realize that this is a really cool event that literally anybody can do,” he said.
Cogar said the lumberjack community is small and tight-knit. While many of Saturday’s competitors are spread across the country — with states such as New York, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wyoming represented — they often travel to the same competitions and have built a close community.
“This takes a village,” Cogar said.
Oakley said she was excited by the turnout at Saturday’s event and could see the brewery hosting another lumberjack competition in the future.