It’s not your average rodeo when instead of roping and riding, contestants wire transformers, scale telephone poles, and save the lives of 150 pound plastic mannequins.

The second Annual Penn-Ohio Lineman’s Rodeo at Greenville Municipal Airport, Greene Township, drew about 20 percent more participants than last year with about 30 competitors total, said organizer Rod Paul.

Jim O’Neill is a lineman instructor who brought his students to this year’s rodeo from Zanesville, Ohio. He said it’s a chance for them to see other linemen in action, pick up pointers, and to test their skills.

“Competition’s always good,” O’Neill said.

Linemen are the people who scale the telephone poles to do the power company’s electrical work.

“There’s not a lot of people who will climb a hundred feet, let alone a hundred feet and grab on to a line powerful enough to kill you,” Paul said.

It’s the linemen who have to work on power to bring it back up after nasty weather, said O’Neill.

He called it a rewarding profession, though it does take a certain kind of person since some of the taller climbs are between 150 and 175 feet, he said.

“This is an event for the linemen,” Paul said. “This is somewhere they can demonstrate their skills against other linemen.”

This year and last year’s winners were a three-man team from New Concord, Ohio, consisting of Frank Wells and Doug Whitehair — both with 30 years’ experience — and Rob Weber, who has been on the job nearly 20 years.

The job can take a lineman to some far-off places, such as when Wells spent two weeks sleeping on a floor and going with cold showers to no showers for two weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

The three-man teams consist of two climbers and a ground man.

They compete in events mostly based around everyday electrical work, like connecting transformers, with the exception of the rescue mission where they must safely lower a dummy to the ground.

Safety and technique are the main two factors graded by judges, Paul said. “Speed will be the last determiner.”

Linemen compete for a travelling trophy. The competition goes national in places like Kansas City where nearly 2,000 people compete, Paul said.

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