Two competitors were at the ready, each man with hands placed on a large log. Only moments before the buzz of chainsaws filled the air as competitors warmed up their saws.
The judge counted down and the two men leaped into action. They started their chainsaws on the ground, then lifted the saws to their logs, and swiftly cut down until a biscuit of wood fell to the ground. They cut back up until a second piece of wood fell to the earth.
The fastest wins, going on to the winner’s bracket, while the slower man is knocked into the loser’s bracket.
“A lot of guys get disqualified right away for picking the saw up,” said competitor Clay Garner. “You have to start it while it’s on the ground and it’s just habit to pick it up.”
Dan Secatero won first place, earning him a new chainsaw donated by Acosta Equipment. Secatero also took first in 2019’s contest. There was no competition in 2020.
The fifth annual chainsaw competition had 16 competitors. The event is meant to draw spectators to the Socorro County Fair. A large crowd gathered in a shaded seating area in front of the competitors and then stretched out beyond onto the sidewalk and into the sun.
The competition kicked off at 11:30, just in time for people to trickle in to watch after the parade down California Street.
“There’s a lot of rivalry with the competitors that come back every year,” said event organizer Jeff Fassett. “They enjoy that part of it.”
Aaron Julin is used to cutting wood. He works for the forestry service, but Saturday was only his second chainsaw competition, and for him, the key to doing well is having his chainsaw prepared: oiled, sharpened and ready to go.
For competitor Bertram Padilla, the fun is all in having people gathered together and listening to the crowd cheer them on.
Whether he wins or loses, Samuel Guerro always has fun. Saturday was his third time competing at the county fair’s contest, and in previous years he’s placed. He’s also participated in contests in Alamo, Arizona and North Carolina.
“You’ve got to focus. You’ve got to know when to move. You’ve got to be fast,” said Guerro.
Like several of the competitors, Guerro brought his homemade table to hold his saw—a small desk with a piece of grooved metal welded on to hold the blade up.
“Just wish me luck. I hope I win again. There’s a lot of good competitors,” he said.
Guerro snagged fourth place, earning him a bag of Rosales’ green chile. Second place winner Howard Padilla won a lamb and third place winner Dexter Apachito went home with 25 bales of hay.