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Record-Breaking Attendance at The National Forest Wood Fair

Tuesday, 20th October 2009

5,500 visitors flocked to the event at Beacon Hill Country Park in August, and were treated to a day packed with lumberjack displays, chainsaw speed carving plus all kinds of wood-themed demonstrations and hands-on activities.

There were traditional activities such as wood turning and willow weaving, story telling and log splitting, and many would-be Ray Mears were eager to learn survival skills such as rainwater collection, firelighting and how to build a shelter out of branches and bracken.

‘It was an excellent event – there was so much to see and do,’ said one visitor.

Others commented:  ‘It was a lovely setting with the woodland and the scenery, and good to be out in the fresh air.’ ‘An excellent day out and excellent value for money.’ ‘A relaxed and friendly environment.’

Dinah Nichols, Chair of the National Forest Company, said: ‘Each year we work hard with our partners at Leicestershire County Council to make The National Forest Wood Fair even better than the year before.  We knew this was set to be a fantastic day and had just been hoping for good weather – which we got! The crowd really enjoyed the new attractions we had lined up, particularly the axe men and the chainsaw speed carve.  The charity auction in aid of Tree Aid saw some exciting bidding and raised £850 for a very worthwhile cause.  The Fair is now a regular date for many of our visitors - we look forward to seeing them each year, and giving them an update on how the Forest is progressing.

‘The Wood Fair is a fantastic opportunity to show all the benefits of creating something as ambitious as The National Forest: new habitats for wildlife, new walks and cycle routes, wood chips and logs for fuel, and in the future, timber for furniture, craft, construction and other uses.’

The One Oak project was a unique attraction at the Wood Fair. 

In order to show the benefits of woodland management and how varied can be the uses of timber from a single tree, an oak tree, that had been felled as part of essential management works in a National Forest woodland, was divided up between sixteen craftspeople.  Each was invited to make something beautiful or useful – and preferably both – from a selected portion of the timber.

All the items produced from the timber were on display at the Wood Fair, and all ‘badged’ with the One Oak project logo.   They included garden gates, beautiful benches (one of which will be placed in the woodland where the oak tree grew), a model timber truck, coat hooks, floorboards, a dog kennel, bird boxes, turned bowls, a magnificent chainsaw sculpture, logs, charcoal, and a lovely carved owl.

The story of the project was told in words and pictures in The National Forest marquee and children were invited to take up the One Oak Challenge.

Simon Greenhouse, Woodland Officer for the National Forest Company, said: “The One Oak project attracted a lot of interest.  We hope it has helped people understand it is important to look after woodlands as they grow, that timber is a very useful resource and that, by replacing the trees that are taken out, it is a truly sustainable cycle of land management.’

The date for the 2010 Wood Fair has been confirmed for Bank Holiday Monday 30 August.

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