Hanna Severy, left, and teammate Lexie Bernier compete in cross saw contest Saturday during Woodsman’s Day events at the Monmouth Fair. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

MONMOUTH — John Postenski, 88, took his final ax swing at the Monmouth Fair on Saturday morning.

He tried his luck in the ax throwing competition, falling just short of the target.

Ax throwing is one of the nine Woodsmen Day events at the fair Saturday.

Postenski, a Connecticut native, met his wife, Anne Supina, at the fair more than 50 years ago, and the pair has attended every summer since. Postenski joined the event every year since his beginning. He said he met his wife in the “Jack and Jill” woodcutting event.

“I started at the Monmouth Fair and will be ending here,” Postenski told the fair staff members.

He said his age is the reason for his retirement from the sport, but coming to the fair while the couple visits their camp house in Raymond is one of their favorite things to do.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s Postenski and Supina’s first year back since 2019, as it was for the “record breaking” crowd in attendance.

Rick Severy throws an ax at a target Saturday during Woodsman’s Day events at the Monmouth Fair. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The Monmouth Fair has been a staple in the town since 1907. To adhere with coronavirus guidelines, social distancing and masks were encouraged, but not enforced.

According to the fair President Diana Morgan, the first three days of the fair were “very busy.”

Gary Buzzell, a volunteer at the fair, said he thinks the large crowd is partially due to people who were “tired of being cooped up.”

“The people I talked to haven’t been to a fair in a long time,” he said. “They just want to do something.”

Buzzell was watching the Woodsmen’s Day events with Lewis McCarthy, who has attended the fair for the past couple of years. McCarthy is “just happy to see everyone.”

According to Morgan, 2019 was the first year they hosted Woodsmen’s Day events in “quite some time.”

This year, the day consisted of log rolling, ax throwing, crosscut sawing, Jack & Jill crosscut sawing, single contestant buck saw, wood chopping, tea boiling and two chain saw events. The cost to participate was $5 per event or $30 for all of the events. Participants had to bring their own saws, axes and other tools that were used in the events, and the fair supplied the wood.

A piece of wood falls off the end of a piece of timber as Herb Gingras finishes cutting though it with a bow saw Saturday during Woodsman’s Day events at the Monmouth Fair. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Rick Kemp, one of the volunteers in charge of Woodsmen’s Day said 19 people signed up from all over the East Coast. Participants came from as far as New Jersey and others came from as close as Wales — and despite being called Woodsmen’s Day, at least six women participated in the day’s events.

One team was Kaylee Bates and Megan Woods, who got their start in the sport from being on a team together at the University of Maine at Orono. Before their first-years in college, neither of them had any experience with the sport. Now, three years after their graduation, they still dabble in what they can.

“I really like the competition side of it,” Bates said. “There’s great people, and (it’s) not something a lot of people do, so that part is cool.”

Bates explained how timber sports are all about the technique. Woods said the more experienced one gets with the sport, the easier it is to read a piece of wood, or know what type of saw, or ax, is needed. Usually in competitions white pine is cut, they said.

Hanna Severy, started the sport just four days ago after her father, Rick Severy, needed a partner.

“It was a little nerve wracking,” she admitted.

By midafternoon, the Woodsmen’s Day events were still going on, and the sun came out from behind the clouds.

Also Saturday were a couple of raffles, a puppeteer and the horse pull. Vendors were set up to sell all of the traditional fair foods such as French fries, cotton candy and fried Oreos, and rides were set up and ready.

Phil Butterfield, a volunteer at the fair, said Saturday was perfect weather for the fair.

“They say the perfect day would be to start the morning in a sweatshirt and end in the afternoon, still wearing the sweatshirt.”

Rick Severy shows the chain mail stockings that he wears to protect feet and lower legs from a possible misplaced ax blow during chopping events for Woodsman’s Day events Saturday at the Monmouth Fair. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

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