One of West Virginia’s most successful athletes hailed from the unusual sport of woodchopping. Arden Cogar Sr. was born in Webster County on July 2, 1934. When he was 21, he won nine titles at what would become the Lumberjack World Championships. He demonstrated his skills at the 1965 New York World’s Fair and quickly became the sport’s leading figure, with regular spots on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He eventually set more than 50 world records, many after he turned 40. He still holds nine records.
Arden Cogar Jr., who is now a lawyer, followed in his father’s footsteps and competed for West Virginia University’s lumberjack team. He now holds 10 world records himself. Altogether, more than 20 Cogars have been competitive lumberjacks. Arden Sr., his son Arden Jr., and nephew Paul collectively hold 21 of the 80 world records in the categories of underhand chopping and standing block chop.
In 2001, the Cogars introduced an international team competition to the Webster County Woodchopping Festival. The festival, which has been held annually since 1960, is one of the most popular events of its kind in the world.