It sounded like a good idea when we first saw the advertisement. Tree climbing, Logging horses, something called a Log to Leg race, and two miles of machine demonstrations. It turned out to be significantly different to what I was expecting. Because it was focused more on the forestry and arboriculture industry, and less on the common man than I thought it would be.
First up were the stalls – Husqvarna, Stihl and the like – selling what felt like infinite varieties of chainsaws, cutters, trimmers, saws, and all the fripperies that go with them. I didn’t know that you got chainsaw boots and chainsaw trousers. At one stall (demonstrating a tyre filler which self-seals almost instantly), I got asked what I did. I rather bashfully said Financial Services, which got the response “So what are you doing here, then?” At that point, I really didn’t know.
But then we moved on to the machines, and there were loads of these. Literally thousands. And while I was interested, it was really entertaining watching Alex being completely enthralled by them. He wanted to know what each one was for, how it worked, and then to see them in action. And there was plenty of action – over the space of a two mile walk through the forest on a hill, there were demonstrations of all sorts of machines. From tree cutters capable of snapping through a tree about 10cm thick, through wood chippers, wood cutters, wood splitters, wood mulchers, wood chippers, stump grinders, stump planers, wood chippers, chainsaws, stump drillers, plank cutters, two excavators feeling a bit out of place, cranes, and some more wood chippers.
I have no idea how much wood was chipped today, but it must have been tons. Literally. (And I mean literally in the literal sense). Most of the demonstrations of these machines had piles of wood chips more than 2m high dumped to one side. Picture a hyperactive kid who’s just discovered what you can do with scissors and paper, and make it man-sized. (Speaking of which, men in this industry are large – it’s been a while since I felt so much like a nerdy runt.)
There were, however, some things that appealed to the rest of the family. The poleclimbing was good to watch – I might have missed seeing the Olympics live, but I can claim to have watched the World Championships in poleclimbing. The winner climbed a 25m pole in 10.4 seconds. Rather impressive. There was also chainsaw carving, some of which was exquisite, such as these:
If you’re wondering, the Log to Leg race turned out to be a competition to see how quickly the contestants could produce a turned chair leg from a log using an old-style foot powered lathe.
And so, all in all, a fantastic day was had by all. So if you ever happen to be near a forestry show, go on and go in. The worst case scenario is that you’ll end up with a lot of wood chips.