At the Fall Jubilee, the Latest Buzz Is Really More of a Roar

By Wendi Kaufman
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, October 9, 2008

Anyone in the vicinity of Old Town Manassas on Saturday would not have missed the buzz of the 26th annual Manassas Fall Jubilee.

Main, Center and West streets were closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians to take to the streets. Residents and visitors browsed booths of handmade crafts, art and jewelry, enjoyed local foods and Virginia wines, and made the most of the beautiful fall weather.

Along with the smell of funnel cake and kettle corn and the warbling sounds of WKDL (1250 AM), "classic country all the time," there was something new this year: the smell of fresh sawdust and the loud buzz of chain saws.

In a large open square, covered in dust, stood two tall, lean women, in matching black tank tops and caps wielding power tools.

Meet the Chainsaw Chix. If the name conjures up images of a B-movie horror flick, think again. Sara Winter, 29, of New York and Alicia Charlton, 28, of Ontario, Canada, create large sculptures from tree stumps and logs with chain saws.

Dressed for work in protective sunglasses, thick gloves and long pants covered with heavy chaps, these women meant business. They started by revving their engines, pulling the cords on several saws at once and setting the blades in motion.

Hearing the roar of the saws, the crowds grew four deep. Little children held their ears, and some cried, but nobody looked away.

For more than an hour, the audience was riveted to the spectacle of Winter and Charlton hacking and sawing, as the crowd waited to see the images that would emerge from the tree trunks.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Betty Trivett of Manassas. "I never expected to see women working with chain saws."

Winter and Charlton worked quickly, and the crowd was cautioned to step back, as chunks would most assuredly fly. Even so, people inched closer, eager to see what shape the stumps would take.

Sawdust rained in the air and accumulated to least an inch on the ground. The symphony of saws could be heard from blocks away. (Winter and Charlton wear headphones and play music to drown out the loud sound of the gas-powered saws.)

At the 35-minute mark, the distinguished head of a bald eagle had taken shape in Winter's stump. Over at Charlton's station, a hat and large head were visible.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company