September 23, 2012

Cumberland County Fair: Woods work still valued

Colby College students demonstrate forestry skills as the fair keeps agricultural traditions going for a 141st year.

By Beth Quimby
Staff Writer

CUMBERLAND - Question: Why is a bow saw 4 feet long?

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Travis Gomez-Phillips of Kennebunkport makes sawdust fly while showing how to use a bow saw during an exhibition by the Colby College Woodsmen’s Team at the Cumberland County Fair on Sunday, opening day of the annual event.

Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Luke Goodwin, 8, of Gorham calls Perry, his entry, during the pig races at the Cumberland Fairgrounds on Sunday. The fair continues through Saturday, with agricultural exhibits, harness racing and more.

Additional Photos Below

Answer: Because that is the length of the logs used by the pulp-making industry, giving sawyers a convenient way to measure each log before cutting it.

That was one of many facts provided by Colby College Woodsmen's Team coach David Smith during a team exhibition on opening day at the Cumberland County Fair on Sunday.

The 141st annual fair, which runs through Saturday at the fairgrounds on Blanchard Road, offers midway rides, games and food attractions, but it is also a place to pick up all sorts of arcane information about the rural arts.

The woodsmen's exhibition attracted a throng of fairgoers who learned that a crosscut saw costs between $1,500 and $2,000 and generates ribbons of wood, not sawdust.

"This is something different and interesting for the kids," said Ashley Moody of Woolwich.

Moody's 1-year-old-son, Parker, bounced up and down in his stroller with excitement as the co-ed team whacked away at logs with axes. But his sister, Madison, 5, said she was more excited about the rides.

"I like the Ferris wheel. It is better than sitting around," Madison said.

In the animal show arena, Rebecca Crocker of New Portland had a lot to say about rabbits.

Crocker brought several Havana and Mini Rex breeds to the show from among her 100 rabbits.

Crocker said rabbit farming keeps her family together. Her sister and her daughter also raise rabbits and now her grandson, Kasey Ireland, 13, of Madison, is continuing the family tradition.

"It is something to do," said Kasey, who won a first place ribbon in the best of variety breeds youth category Sunday.

Crocker said rabbit breeds, 48 of which are recognized by the American Rabbit Association, have different personalities.

Her Havanas are mild and even-tempered.

"The Mini Rexes are snuggle babies but excitable," she said.

Some even prove to be valuable.

One of last year's Cumberland fair champion rabbits sold for $800 to someone in Japan, Crocker said.

Kathy Williams, owner of the Kowanhee Creek Farm in South Woodstock, breeds Nubian and La Mancha goats.

Williams said she made the switch from horses to goats after her sister left a few goats when she moved to Australia.

"It kind of grew from there," Williams said.

Now she and her husband, Bob Chapdelaine, keep a herd of 30 and she competes at five or six fairs a year. Her major competition is her good friend, Kathy Gigas, of West Paris.

The fair's exhibition halls open at 9 a.m. and events continue through 7 p.m.

Admission is $9, free for children 12 and under, and on Tuesday and Thursday people 65 and older get in for $3. Parking is free.

A calendar of events is available online at

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Jenny Helm of Waitsfield, Vt., works at crosscut sawing with other members of the Colby College Woodsmen’s Team on Sunday at the Cumberland County Fair. Helm graduated from Colby in 2011.


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