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2021 Lake Effect Lumberjack Classic

Lake Effect Lumberjack Classic

After a one-year hiatus, they ARE BACK! 32 top lumberjacks and lumberjills will be traveling to Buffalo to swing axes, saw wood, and rip fast cuts with dirt bike/snowmobile-powered chainsaws. 

I caught up with Alex Miller – elite competitor, and event organizer – a couple days ago and, needless to say, she is stoked for this year’s competition.

“I’m really excited to bring back a very extreme lumberjack/jill show to the fans of Buffalo. We have ramped up this year’s show and will be hosting the top athletes across the US. We have some big names coming to Buffalo.”

Some of the top competitors include*:

  • Kate Witkowski – Finished 5th, 2021 Women’s Stihl Series and is one of the top lumberjills
  • Nancy Zalewski – Finished 2nd, 2021 Women’s Stihl Series. She is a world record holder in Single Buck, and also a top lumberjill
  • Alex Miller – Finished 8th, 2021 Women’s Stihl Series. Another top lumberjill, she is performing well at the highest level for women
  • Matt Cogar –  6 time Stihl US Champ, world record holder, 2nd at the 2018 World Championships in Liverpool, England Finished 2nd, 2021 Stihl Series
  • Mike Sullivan – FIRST US Stihl champ in 1985, arguably the best hot sawer in the world- definitely the US

*there will be many more top caliber competitors in attendance.

Alex is not only competing in the event, she is also hosting it, meaning that she is responsible for every facet.  I asked her a few questions:

Alex Miller with Tracy Schmidt

What does it take to host a lumberjack/jill show?

We have to turn all the sawing/chopping wood on a lathe. This year we had to mill the new deck/stage for the stands to be secured to. We have to find sponsors to support the event. Get competitors to travel far and wide to put on a great show. Find volunteers, judges, scorekeepers, announcers to run the show on the day of. A lot goes into one event!

Why is this event so important to you?

This sport is my passion. I want to give back to the sport that has given so much to me. This sport gave me purpose during the hardest time of my life when my older sister passed away. Since then, I’ve been giving everything I have to help grow as an individual competitor and to help grow the appreciation for the oldest extreme sport. By partnering with Buffalo Riverworks, we are able to provide, by far, one of the best venues and atmosphere for one of the most unique sports and I am honored to be driving that.

Lake Effect Lumberjack Classic
Alex Miller

Who built that killer chainsaw, can you tell me more about it?

My dad is the brains behind this 290cc Arctic Cat hot saw. Yes, it is built from a snowmobile motor. We had the cylinder cut in half and the crank balanced, other than that, my dad built everything. We have some trial and errors to go through yet before we run with the big dogs. One of the challenges especially for hot saw is making the saw light enough for a woman to run comfortably. We are at 54lbs currently and we are trying to make it even lighter.

We are very proud of “Alley Cat,” and I am proud to be one of the very few women who will be running hot saw. Also, shout out to my dad for channeling his expertise of 2-stroke engines and creating a hot saw, I’m very thankful I get to learn from someone like him.

Lake Effect Lumberjack Classic

Random, but – who is your favorite athlete?

Josh Allen – Go Bills!

Matt Cogar – 6x Stihl US Champ

What should an attendee expect to see / experience?

They will have fun, and experience one of the most challenging and oldest extreme sports LIVE. The Lake Effect Lumberjack Classic is a family friendly event.” Several of the competitors you’ll be seeing this weekend you can also watch every Monday evening on CBS Sports until December 20, 2021 as part of the US Stihl Timbersports Series. Come cheer on your favorite athlete.

Who would you like to thank?

I would not be able to run this event without the support of my good friend, Tracy Schmidt, who helps with everything involved. Bernie Schmieder for helping us mill all the wood for our new stage/deck. Thank you to those others who helped mill and cut the deck.

Our sponsors came up big especially after a difficult covid pandemic. We couldn’t have this event without their support. Finally, the volunteers who will be selling merchandise, working on the wood crew and helping keep score, THANK YOU!


Metallico, Davey Resource Group, The Fish Family, The Murphy’s, New York State Arborist Association, Bradley Tree and Landscaping, LandPro, B & L, The Miller House

2021 Lake Effect Lumberjack Classic

Saturday, September 18, 2021


Buffalo Riverworks – 359 Ganson St, Buffalo, NY 14203

You can purchase VIP tickets which include floor level seating and access to an on-rink bar here. 

Written by Jim Kupczyk

Jim Kupczyk

founder of and current passions include: mindfulness, energy healing, eastern philosophy, buffalo’s rise and japanese whiskey. born raised school - buffalo. contact jim kupczyk l

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