SWING INTO ACTION: (From left) Hurford Hardwood's Garry Connolly, Lexi and Andrew Hurford, North Coast Nationals secretary Mark Bailey and president John Gibson, and chief steward James Livingstone.
SWING INTO ACTION: (From left) Hurford Hardwood's Garry Connolly, Lexi and Andrew Hurford, North Coast Nationals secretary Mark Bailey and president John Gibson, and chief steward James Livingstone. Jackie Munro

Woodchop event to feature virtual reality software

AFTER a bumper event last year, the woodchop event at the North Coast National is set to be even bigger, playing centre stage to a state championships.

North Coast National Agricultural and Industrial Society secretary Mark Bailey said following record entries in last year's event, the NSW Axemen's Association decided to bring a state championship event to the region for this year's show.

This year as well as the annual woodchop events, the show will also feature the NSW 275mm Tree Felling Championship.

"Last year's woodchop saw one of the event's biggest turnouts ever, due in no small part, because of Hurfords' support," he said.

"Having a state championship held here is a first for the North Coast National.

"These championship events are usually held at events such as the Royal Easter Show so to have one held here is a big honour."

Mr Bailey said if the championship event goes well in 2019, there is the "real possibility the axemen's association will consider more events, possibly even televised events".

Event chief steward James Livingstone said it was exciting to host a state championships, especially with the recent surge in popularity of the woodchopping sport.

"Back when the woodchop first appeared at the Lismore Show it wasn't uncommon to have hundreds of woodchoppers competing," Mr Livingstone said.

"While the sport eventually saw a decline, last year was the biggest number of axemen entrants in more than 50 years. It's good news."

Mr Livingston said to accommodate the championships there have been a number of alterations made to the woodchop arena, including widening of the space and the construction of special tree-felling mounts.

Mr Livingstone said this new setup will allow event organisers to once again accommodate a large number of axemen, up to 50.

"From the championship registrations we already know that we are going to have the second, third and fourth best tree fellers in the world competing here next month," he said.

"You don't usually get that kind of calibre of competition here."

Hurford's Hardwood has again signed on as major sponsor, and Lexi Hurford said the business was proud to be supporting the event.

She said the Hurfords stand near the woodchop arena will be featuring virtual reality software for the first time.

"We have this forest learning virtual reality film coming to the show this year," she said.

"The film will show the life cycle of a forest, from planting through to the timber's use as a product.

"It will be good for school students to be able to see it happening. For anyone who is interested really."

Mr Bailey said organisers were constantly working to improve the beloved annual show.

"This new event is proof the North Coast National is growing," Mr Bailey said.

"Many regional shows are being pushed to the brink and putting on shows has been challenging due to the drought.

"Already we know 14 regional shows have been cancelled due to this drought, and six will most likely never be run again."

The woodchop events will be conducted at the Woodchop Arena on Friday, October 18 at 1pm and Saturday, October 19 at 10am.

Tickets to the North Coast National are available now at lismoretickets.com.au.



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