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New Site Key to Success of National Forest Wood Fair

Wednesday, 1st September 2010

The increased crowds at last year’s event encouraged the organisers, Leicestershire County Council (LCC) and the National Forest Company (NFC), to move the event to an adjacent field.

‘It proved to be the best thing,’ said Nick Fell, Forestry Manager for LCC.  ‘The weather was kind to us, people turned out in their thousands and the new site made the event a real success.’

The crowds loved the lumberjack displays, the horse logging and the chainsaw carving. 

Another first for this year was the ‘log to leg’ race in Bodgers’ Corner.  ‘Bodger’ is an ancient term for a pole lathe turner who worked out in the woodlands making chair legs.  Under a canopy of oak trees, the starter’s bell sounded and five bodgers raced to turn a lump of wood into a matching pair of chair legs.  Against the clock and according to strict judging criteria, they axed and shaved, turned and chiselled.  Local woodsman Peter Wood won the morning’s competition with a time of 12 minutes 6 seconds; Matt Jarvis from Warwickshire won the afternoon’s frantic event with a time of 12 minutes 20 seconds.

Peter Osborne, the Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, said: ‘It is amazing that something of this quality could be produced with no electricity, no precision tools and all done by eye, in such a short space of time.

‘The Wood Fair really is an excellent event and I was amazed by the number of people who came up to me to tell me how much they were enjoying themselves. Beacon Hill is a wonderful venue for what really was a great day out and congratulations go out to everyone who organised the Wood Fair, took part in it and came along.’

Judith Webb, Non Executive Director of NFC, who rang the starter’s bell to start the race, said later: ‘I've been to many wood fairs and country fairs and this has to have been one of the best. There was a lovely relaxed atmosphere and everyone seemed to be having a good time, exhibitors and visitors alike.  The Wood Fair is a great way to show people the value of trees, wood and timber as a product, and how people can make the most of The National Forest as it develops.’

Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive of NFC, said:  ‘Around Leicester and Loughborough there are many great things to do over the summer, including just walking in the beautiful countryside. But many visitors to the Wood Fair told me how uniquely interesting, relaxed and fun it is: traditional skills, no tat, great views and things to watch or to buy. 

‘Every year we put on something new, so both regular and first time visitors had a great time. It worked for all ages too, with places to sit as well as lots to do.

‘Despite the recession, National Forest wood-based businesses are doing well and we had a lot of interest in business support as well as woodland crafts. So all in all, it really is an event with something for everyone. I came away the proud owner of a 'log gobbler' - a simple, strong hessian bag to get my logs in from outside to my fireplace, without as much mess and effort as it currently involves: one happy punter amongst thousands!

‘The event is run by Leicestershire County Council and the National Forest Company - a great partnership which I hope will continue into the future as the Fair goes from strength to strength.’