Brothers compete against each other for top prize in chainsaw contest

By Glenda Rae Davis
Navajo Times

ALAMO, N.M., October 18, 2012

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Edward Padilla from Alamo, N.M., powers the chainsaw through the trunk of a tree Saturday during the chainsaw contest in Alamo, N.M.

SECOND FROM TOP: Wood chips fill the air as chainsaw competitors compete against one another on Saturday at the 32nd annual Alamo Indian Days Celebration in Alamo, N.M.

F or the last 10 years, the chainsaw contest always seemed to come down to two enthusiasts - at least that's what two brothers, Edward and Howard Padilla, remember.

"We have always been the ones that end up going at it for first and second," recalled Edward, who is of the Big Bucket Clan and born for Apache.

This year, the two were once again in contention for first-place bragging rights in the chainsaw contest during the 32nd annual Indian Days Celebration over the weekend.

Edward, 46, won the double-elimination competition with his brother following in second, Howard, 43. There were 11 contestants total.

The chainsaw contest has been one of several odd yet entertaining competitions at the annual event including the coffee brewing, pie eating and watermelon eating contests.

The objective of this contest is to saw through a Pine log that is 12-inches in diameter in two areas. The first person to saw through the wood in two areas is declared the winner and advances to the next round. In the double-elimination contest, Edward dominated the winner's bracket while his brother dominated the lower bracket.

Edward's choice of chainsaw has always been his brother's 10-year-old 395 Husqvarna chainsaw.

"My brother prefers the Stihl chainsaws," said Edward. "I guess it just has to do with what your comfortable with using. I got use to the Husqvarna."

For Howard, being bumped into the lower bracket was something that he expected after he accidentally switched off his chainsaw after cutting through the wood the first time.

"The on and off switch is right where my thumb sticks out," said Howard. "So when I lifted the chainsaw to do the second cut my thumb pushed the switch up and off. I've done it before. One little slip and you're done, you lost that round."

Slip-ups should be avoided in this sport as contestants are racing against time.

"This contest is all about the chainsaw," said Howard. "I like it when we have to start with taking a knee, with the chainsaw off. In that kind of competition you have to start up your chainsaw as quickly as possible, then get up and saw. That's where your skill with the saw is really tested."

According to the Padilla brothers, the sharpness of the chain, also known as the teeth, is really what separates the winners from the losers.

"If you look a some of these guys' chainsaw teeth, they're brand new," said Howard. "The teeth are longer, giving them a better chance of getting caught up in the wood and stopping. The teeth on my chainsaws are small and sharp, it keeps going if the chainsaw has teeth like that."

Edward said knowing how to use a chainsaw is something almost everyone knows.

"It's getting cold now so everyone has a chainsaw," said Edward, a former Council delegate. "Getting wood for our homes and knowing how to use the chainsaw is a family tradition in this town."

As for good sportsmanship, the Padillas showed that though they are competitive, at the end of the day, sportsmanship is important.

"It's all about having fun," said Howard. "There are some guys who get too serious about the contest but me and Edward, we're here to have fun."

Right now, Edward and Howard have their sights set on a chainsaw contest on Oct. 28 in Magdalena, N.M., where the winning trophy is a brand new 311 Stihl chainsaw.

Prizes for the Indian Days Chainsaw contest include things like gloves, bar and chain oil and chainsaw files.

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