A new Thanksgiving tradition has begun in the Piney Woods, and it is beginning to have a family flair.
The second East Texas Baddest Woodsman contest was held in Jefferson, Texas November 26, 2016 with good turnout. The contest pits contestants in a timed event to see who can split four logs, each into four pieces to finish with a total of 16 pieces of split wood. The woodsman who finishes the task in the shortest amount of time is crowned the East Texas Baddest Woodsman. Competitors were permitted to bring their own axe or maul, or they could use one provided by Trico Lumber Company in Jefferson, who sponsored the event.
16 competitors displayed their skills. The ages of the group was varied, with the youngest being 17 years old and the oldest comfortably in his seventies. The timed event was conducted in four heats with four competitors per heat. Afterwards, Tommy Craver pointed out some of the finer points of competitive wood splitting. Each contestant was permitted to look over their four logs, set them in any pattern they wanted, examine the logs for the best places to strike, and set their axe with the head on the ground, At the starters call, they began. Technique had signinfcant bearing on the outcome. The winner this year was 25 year old Will Smoak, Jr., who finished in a time of 1:02 in the final heat as the crowd cheered him on. He beat the time of last years winner, 47 year old William Smoak, Sr. by four seconds. Second and third place finishers Tommy Green and Jesse Navarette finished with times of 1:32 and 1:44. Some competitors could not finish, as the competition was physically exhausting, and some of the logs seemed determined not to be split with axes just bouncing off at times. Woodsman and bystanders were treated to lunch of hot dogs, and grilled chicken afterwards.
A new East Texas holiday event has begun, and a new family competition with bragging rights has begun in the Smoak family. The year’s East Texas Baddest Woodsman is Will Smoak, Jr.