Facing the axe!

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The five lumberjacks will be performing competitive games such as ‘log rolling’ (two men trying to roll one another off a log), axe throwing, cross-cut sawing, and chain-saw racing.

And it will all appear appear as easy as falling off a log (though maybe don’t try it at home).

The leader of the show is Lee LeCaptain, from Florida, a professional lumberjack man and boy, who has been nine times world lumberjack champion.

He has now retired from commercial lumberjacking – ‘there are a lot of easier and safer jobs you can do’ – and has taken his show all around the world.

Three members of his team still work commercially, and among the five members are two top Canadian log rollers, and the world’s most accurate axe thrower: ‘He throws it from 20ft into a target, which has only a four-inch bull’s eye.’ He was speaking the day before the show, where his team were keeping their hand in by chopping up a few logs.

He was quite relieved that their airline company had now found their missing baggage of saws and axes, without which it might have been difficult to stage a compellingly interesting show.

The JEP reporter had rashly assumed that there would be a Mr Bunyan to interview, but was told that this was an early fictitious character, so it was a bit like asking to speak to Captain Marvel.

Paul Bunyan – a century or more old now – is a giant with his head in the clouds, who with one swing of his axe can lay low a whole forest – which gives one something of the atmosphere of the show and the skills of the team members.

Lumberjacking had changed with time, Mr LeCaptain said, and had now become much more automated.

But the skills in the show were still used in small lumbering operations or in tree services.

‘We very much promote afforestation,’ he said, ‘and now, in North America, ten trees are planted for every one that is cut down.

We need trees, they give us shade and oxygen and beauty and most trees that are cut down commercially are ones that were designed to be harvested, or need to be cut down to give more space to other trees.’ Was he aware of the name Monty Python, and the famous lumber-jack song? ‘I’m an all-right lumberjack,’ he answered, ‘and none of us put on women’s clothing.’ ?The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show will be performing today at 1pm, 3pm and 5.15pm, and tomorrow at 12.30pm, 2.15pm and 5pm.

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