A total of 30 men and women took part in this year's event
Officials at the 156th Annual Wayne County Fair had their hands full this weekend.
Nearly 80 entrants took part in Friday night’s demolition derby despite monsoon-like conditions which reduced the infield to a muddy mess. Afterward, a small army of workers put in some serious overtime preparing for Saturday’s events.
The main attraction remains one of the fair’s most popular: The Woodsmen’s Competition.
This marks the 35th year for the event, which is sponsored by the Wayne Conservation District. It's organized by Forest Specialist Kelley Stewart, who took a moment out of her busy afternoon to
“At 7:30 this morning, there were dozens of people out here working to clean everything up so we'd be ready to go,” she said. “I can't thank the fair enough for hosting us and for all the work they did today.”
Hundreds of fans packed the old wooden grandstand to witness this year's version of the event.
And, they were treated to an afternoon of non-stop action as 30 men and women from all over the region gathered at the fair grounds to compete.
“This is the best turnout we've had since 2009,” said Stewart. “It's great to see such passion with everyone involved, from the competitors to the fans and all the volunteers who work so hard every year.”
The 35th Woodsmen's Competition was comprised of 11 different events, from tree felling to log rolling, axe throwing to crosscut.
After Melanie Hanson sang the National Anthem, action got underway with chainsawing (up to 4.19 cubic inch division).
Rick Mikloiche earned the first trophy of the day, posting a winning time of 4.81 seconds. Steve Mikloiche finished second (4.87), while Buck Kelly placed third (5.69).
Both Mikloiches represent Hillcrest Lumber, while Kelly hails from Brinkerhoff Tree Service.
In the 4.2-5.0 cubic inch bracket, Buck Kelly notched his first win of the competition with a time of 6.85 seconds. He was chased home by Terry Schwartz (8.34) and Anthony Barlotta (9.00).
The final chainsawing division featured saws 5.01 cubic inches and greater.
Ron Pladek, Nichols College School of Forestry, grabbed the top prize with a time of 11.59 seconds. Jim Watson Jr. of Dunn's Sawmill was second (12.66), while Chip Arthur took third (13.69).
Next up was the Vertical Standing Chop Block and Rick Mikloiche once again made his presence felt. He captured first place with a time of 33.06 seconds.
Steve Mikloiche wound up second (33.59) and Kent VanHorn of Penn Forest LLC claimed third (37.84).
Team Log Rolling was next on the agenda with the dynamic duo of Wyatt Davis and Curt Rickard bringing home the gold.
Davis and Rickard posted a time of 17.35 seconds, outdistancing the tandems of Louis Matoushek and Steve Mikloiche (19.28), Terry Schwartz and Wes VanOrden (19.50).
Crosscutting has always been a fan favorite at the Wayne County Fair and this year proved no exception.
The Jack & Jill Division was up first and ended with a victory by the duo of Steve Mikloiche and Veronica Anderson (8.32).
The silver medal went to Rick Mikloiche and Tori Romansky (9.85), followed by Terry and Brittany Schwartz (10.60). who took bronze.
In Chainsaw Tree Felling action, Wyatt Davis earned first place laurels by dropping his tree right on the pin. Matoushek was runner-up with a three-inch mark, while Buck Kelly took third at 10”.
New to this year's competition was the Super Swede Bow Saw event, which attracted six men.
Steve Mikloiche posted a winning time of 6.5 seconds. Kent VanHorn placed second (6.59) and Wes VanOrden third (6.81).
Axe Throwing had the crowd fired up as 21 competitors had a go at the traditional fan favorite.
When the smoke cleared, Noah Eisenhardt of Ian Ernst Inc. emerged victorious. Mike Miszler finished second.
The final two events were Skill Tree Felling and Two Person Crosscut. George Speer of Lily's Logging & Land Clearing took gold in the former, while the team of Rick Mikloiche and Chip Arthur won the latter.
Mikloiche closed out the afternoon as Grand Champion of the 2018 competition.
The forest industry remains a vital cog in the state's economy and it's especially vibrant locally.
This is one of the main reasons the Conservation District began hosting a Woodsmen's Competition every summer.
“I don't think people realize how much timber comes from Pennsylvania and how important the industry is to our economy,” Stewart said.
“There's a great deal of timbering here in Wayne County and it supports an awful lot of families and businesses. So, this is a great way to highlight that and show our appreciation to all these hard-working men and women.”