Top axemen head to Metcalfe

Many of the state’s top axemen are headed to Metcalfe this Sunday as the normally sleepy locale springs to life for the annual Vintage Tractor Pull and Wood Chop.
Serving as a popular precursor to the Melbourne Show, the wood chop draws some high-profile competition with the state Under 18 Championship event and the Ginger Wait Memorial Championship among the most keenly contested categories.
Among the organisers is Metcalfe local Mark Kirley, a competitive wood chopper himself who at 61 will this year contest the open division.
“This year I’ll be competing in the open events plus we have a veterans’ event, which is for people over 60,” he says.
“The major event of the day is the Ginger Wait Memorial championship. We have a perpetual trophy made out out of a bit of Metcalfe redgum. That attracts some very good axemen.”
Mark has notched up about 47 years of competitive wood chopping and has trained his three sons in the increasingly high-profile sport.
This year two of his sons Mitchell, 16, and Philip, 18, will both be competing with Mitchell a contender for the under 18 state championship event and Philip taking on the novice events and the open crosscut sawing event as well.
“I’m hoping I can go alright,” says Mitchell who studies at Castlemaine Tafe and plays football with North Bendigo.
“There’s some very good boys cutting in there for sure. Some very quick, very skillful guys, so it will be good. It should be a great day.”
This is the second year that Metcalfe and the Midland Axemen’s Association has hosted the under 18 championship.
“We’ve got quite a few boys competing in it, and boys that are actually competing against the men in major events so we’ve got a very good field of axemen coming along for that,” Mark says.
Besides his sons, Mark says his young daughter Neita, 14, is also keen to take up the sport of wood chopping and he expects the addition of a women’s comp to the annual Metcalfe event is on the cards for the near future.
“Last year we had quite a few ladies enter and we had one from the states so that’s probably one we’ll look at in the very near future.”
Now in its 13th year, the annual Metcalfe Vintage Tractor Pull and Wood Chop has gained a staunch following with many turning out to catch the vintage tractors being nursed, cursed and coaxed to their limits.
There’s also vintage and classic cars, children’s entertainment and food stalls with the classic country festival raising much-needed funds for many local community groups like the CFA, tennis club, senior citizens, landcare and the hall.

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