Ben Jaffe demonstrates the underhand chop as part of the Colby College Woodsmen show at the Cumberland Country Fair on Sunday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

CUMBERLAND — Renee Montwieler and Ben Jaffe stood several yards apart. Each held an ax, wore leg guards and balanced on a log.

The two members of the Colby College Woodsmen waited as their coach, David Smith, counted down: “Three, two, one, go!”

Montwieler and Jaffee began swinging and chopping like old-time lumberjacks, making cuts at 45-degree angles – the most efficient way to chop a tree, Smith said. Before long, each log fell to the ground, and the audience cheered and applauded.

The demonstration was one of many Sunday at the Cumberland County Fair, which drew thousands of people on its opening day. All around were the sights and sounds of farm animals, tractors and carnival rides.

The fair, in its 151st year, features harness racing, rodeos, a dizzying array of food and hundreds of animals that fairgoers can get close to.

“This year, we enhanced our dairy area to incorporate a milking parlor for cattle to be brought in and milked,” said fair president Lyle Merrifield. “Certainly we’re bringing in a lot of rodeo stuff this year. We try to do a little more in every area. It’s all agricultural-based.”


Rachel Hatheway, left and Lily Craig demonstrate the two-person crosscut saw as part of the Colby College Woodsmen show Sunday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

That included the Colby Woodsmen, who continued their show by demonstrating the use of a two-person cross-cut saw as Smith talked about the history of lumberjacking and how many of the team’s saws were used in the 1800s.

Finally, Jaffee put on a belt and fastened spikes to his boots to make a daring climb up a 40-foot tall pole, the way lumberjacks would attach pulleys and ropes to land a tree. During Jaffee’s ascent, while high on the pole, loose bark prompted him to slip, but he made the climb up and down successfully.

The Woodsmen’s demonstration is “based on actual events that real lumberjacks did in the woods,” said co-captain Nick von Schnell.

Wade Desrochers, 4, of Scarborough, competes in the Kids Pedal Tractor Pull at the Cumberland Country Fair on Sunday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Another popular event Sunday was the kids pedal tractor pull.

The John Deere toy tractor was hooked to a wagon weighed down with bricks – 45 pounds for the smaller children, 55 pounds for the bigger youths.

Wade Desrochers, 4, of Scarborough, climbed onto the toy tractor and started pedaling, slowing moving his load. Adults around him cheered to keep going. When Wade stopped, pedal tractor pull superintendent Danielle Roberge recorded the distance.


Another contestant was Isabelle Miller, 6, of Falmouth, whose father and sister were cheering as she pedaled.

Both young ones won ribbons for their divisions. Their parents weren’t surprised.

Matt and Aili Desrochers said their son Wade has a personal interest. “He is obsessed with tractors. It’s all he talks about,” his father said. And he has some experience, his mother said. “He helps Matt drive the big tractor at home.”

Isabelle’s father, Caillin Miller, explained that Isabelle’s older sister, Sophia, 8, won the contest a few years ago, and the sisters practice gymnastics. “They both have strong legs,” he said.

Isabelle Miller 6, of Falmouth, competes in the Kids Pedal Tractor Pull. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

His family attends the fair every year, Miller said. They like the rides, the animals and “being able to do this,” he said of the tractor pull.

At a 4-H stall, Aine Martel, 16, of Cumberland, was hugging her sheep, Sully. Sully likes to be close to her, Martel said, and she added that “Sully is shy.”


At other stalls where goats hang out, Ray Leavitt of Grasshopper Farm in Center Conway, New Hampshire, talked about his Nubian goats, which have long, floppy ears. His goats are bottle-fed when they’re babies and are very social to the people who care for them, Leavitt said.

His goats are milked for milk, cheese, ice cream and soap, he said.

Leavitt nicknamed two of his black-and-white spotted goats. “I call them ‘the terrorists,’ because they’re always in trouble. They try to get out of their pen, go get some extra grain and hay, mess up the barn if they can,” Leavitt said. “They’re very smart.”

Shallie Hurd, of Waterboro, center, clips the family’s 4H steer, Mater, as Ryder, 10, and Joseph Hurd look on at the Cumberland Fair Sunday. The family was getting Mater ready for shows coming up later in the week at the fair. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The Cumberland County Fair is open daily through Saturday. Organizers expect 60,000 people to attend, Merrifield said.

After Cumberland is the Fryeburg Fair, from Oct. 1-8 – the last fair of this year’s season.

Fairgoers enjoy one of the many rides at the Cumberland County Fair on Sunday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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