Frex hosts Eastern Canada Lumberjack Championships
Organizers hope to draw new audiences with chainsaw sculpting and other twists
The annual Fredericton Exhibition opened Sunday, but there are some changes this year to the event, which has been a tradition in the city since 1827.
Over the past 185 years, the Frex, as it is known, has presented agriculture shows, midways and entertainment.
Organizers said the event has become too predictable, and that's kept some people away, while others would only come once during the week.
Executive director Mike Vokey says this year, for the first time, the Frex is hosting the Eastern Canadian Lumberjack Championships, which attracts competitors from as far away as Vermont and New Hampshire with cash prizes of up to $300 per event.
One competitor is Scott Read, a professional lumberjack from Truro, N.S.
"During the event, when you're up there chopping the top of the stick off, you're approximately eight feet up in the air … with a razor-sharp axe. So it can be quite dangerous," Read said.
The event will also include a daily chainsaw sculpture contest, featuring competitors from British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Also, for the first time in 17 years, the Frex will close with a fireworks display.
Vokey said there will also be music concerts every night, each one catering to a specific group.
"We geared it for different audiences for different days, in the hopes that it will get people who want to come back and enjoy the Frex," he said.
He added that the goal is to get audiences excited enough to come out each night.
"Not just come back this year, because they haven't been in a few years, but come back because there's so much going on, that literally, every day is a different day," he said.
"We're really hoping the people will go on a Sunday, and say, 'Wow, I really want to come back on Tuesday; I really want to come back on Wednesday.'"
Vokey said the show must offer novelty to succeed.
"To continue to grow, to progress and offer new memories for our kids and our kids' kids, you can't repeat shows from 185 years ago. You need a new show every year," he said.
The Fredericton Exhibition runs until Friday.