The 65th Annual Woodsmen's Field Days in Oneida County are entertaining the area with their numerous wood cutting events this weekend. But as our Andrew Sorensen tells us, they are also carving out another specialty for themselves in cutting edge new technologies.
BOONVILLE, N.Y. -- The Woodmen's Field Days in Boonville could be the most you ever learn at a sporting event.
"The events are all related to what the woodsmen in the forest would have done long ago when they were logging," 2011 Women's Open Champion Peg Engasser said.
Beyond the entertainment of the harrowing competitions like the log roll or the spring board, lumberjacking and lumberjilling are deeply symbolic to people like Robert Bosco.
"It's important because it puts us out there sometimes we don't appreciate where the wood comes from," the long-time lumberjack competitor said.
That appreciation of the timber industry is exactly what the Field Days' executive coordinator Phyllis White wants people to take away from their visit.
"The lumber industry in New York State and the forest industry as a whole directly affects all of us every single day," she said.
It's an industry that is rapidly growing more high-tech and even spreading into other fields.
"The idea is to get people started in this so that ultimately it will be a cost effective energy crop," USDA Farm Service Agency conservation specialist Virginia Green said.
Green is helping the USDA establish one section of the industry creating a lot of buzz this year: biomass energy.
"In our program, we're looking to grow 3,500 acres of willow in a nine county region here in Northern New York," she said.
The willow would then be used as a fairly reliable renewable energy source. Not every tent is so highly specialized, there's plenty around for the casual cutter too, like chainsaw row.
"Every booth has some piece of education or written material that directly affects the forest industry and how people have to everyday use some portion of the forest industry in their life," White said.
Even if you're coming just for the sport and the art and don't plan on learning anything, there are lessons in those too, most notably, don't try this at home.
The Woodsmen's Field Days continue through Sunday, rain or shine, with the men's open championship.