Double-edged axes? No problem for Lumberjills
TAMPA — The blades are hair-splitting sharp. The logs, some more than a foot thick, are mere child's play for this group of ax-wielding ladies.
The World Champion Lumberjills, expert sport loggers who wow crowds from California to Maine, are back for the second time at the Florida Strawberry Festival, ready to chop, roll logs and crosscut thick slabs of wood with stunning agility.
"They're very interactive and they just put on an excellent show," festival spokeswoman KeeLee Tomlinson said.
The Jills will stage three half-hour performances daily (four on weekends), throwing double-edged axes, logrolling in a pool, chopping wood underhand-style, sawing logs with souped-up chain saws and crosscutting huge logs in teams of two.
"It's a lot of fun. It keeps you in shape," said Patty Christinat, 29, who joined the group seven years ago after competing in sport logging at Unity College in Maine.
The Jills have showcased their woodswoman talents for nearly 20 years.
Tina "Timber Tina" Scheer started the group after competing in logging events with her family in her native Hayward, Wis., home of the Lumberjack World Championships.
The youngest of six, she tried logrolling at age 7 and was hooked. When not on the road, she works at the Lumberjills' home base in Trenton, Maine, where she also operates the Great Maine Lumberjack Show, which runs at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor during summers.
"It just got to be in our blood," said Scheer, now 52. "At 18 or 19, my family started a logrolling show, then a road show to continue the season, and it just grew and grew and grew."
She competed on the CBS reality TV show Survivor in 2006, getting knocked off in the first round.
In addition to Christinat, also performing at the festival will be Erica Schreiner, Martha Schoppe, Allie Perry and Natalie Radtke.
Rich Shopes, Times staff writer