Grafton chopping top of the tree
WOODCHOPPING: Grafton Show wood chopping organiser Chris Owen sees a big future for the sport in town after a successful program last weekend.
After the last-minute addition of the traditional NSW v Queensland State of Origin, thanks to a generous sponsor, Owen said it would develop into one of the best chops in the country.
"Jason Tomms from Tomsy's Timbers, who sponsored both of our state titles, came to me Friday and said, 'We've got all the boys here, why don't we run it? I'll go to the bank in the morning and we'll do it'," Owen said.
"The Queenslanders just beat us, the b-----ds," he added with a laugh.
Mr Tomms has promised to support the event again, which Owen believes will make the Grafton Show wood chopping program one of the biggest regional chops in the country.
"It will put us on the map, that this sort of program isn't a one-off, it'll be every year," he said.
The quality of competition was clear to see on the night, with champion Glen Gilliam taking out the 400mm standing block event.
"He is the modern-day David Foster," Owen said. "Last year he won both world titles at Sydney and that's only been achieved twice before.'
Runner-up was Mitch Argent, who Owen said had come from winning a Stihl series event the day before in Sydney and was showing the strain of a recent heavy program.
"A couple of boys who had competed in the Stihl program were drained, and on the Saturday he saved himself for the big event and he still placed second," Owen said.
As for his own cutting exploits, Owen said the pressures of running the event took precedence over his own results, but he was keen to ramp up for another big year.
"I cut as good as I could with running the program," he said.
"You've got to focus on one or the other and I'd rather see the show go good than win the one event. I can go to plenty of other shows.
"The standard we had in Grafton was as high as the Royal Show. The people of Grafton got to see the best standing-block guys in the world, and we had full stands both days."
Owen said the focus of the tour would turn to an upcoming competition between Australia and New Zealand at the Brisbane show.
While he would not be competing, it was something he hoped he could break into in the next few years.
"With my third place at the Sydney Royal show, I'll start to be in the selectors eyes," Owen said.
"I'll definitely train for the next 12 months to get more consistent results and hopefully break into that team in the next few years."