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Axe Handle Exhibit

An axe handle with SFA initials placed on top of an SFA logo embroidered shirt

SFA Centennial

Owning and decorating a personalized axe handle is one of the university’s most beloved traditions, so we’d love to feature yours as part of the university’s centennial celebrations! 

Lumberjacks near and far are invited to have their axe handles included in SFA’s Centennial Axe Handle Exhibit, which will be an on-campus exhibit with a digital slideshow component so that even distant Jacks can participate. 

Physical Exhibit 

Local alumni, student organizations, faculty and staff who wish to participate may temporarily loan their axe handles for the physical exhibit. The goal is to get around 20-30 physical axe handles to be used in the space, which will be placed all around the room. 

Digital Exhibit 

All non-local Lumberjacks are invited to submit photos of their decked-out handles to be included in the digital video portion of the exhibit. Submissions should include a clear, high-resolution JPEG of the axe handle, name and graduation year (if applicable) of the Lumberjack, and a brief description on the significance of some of the handle decorations. The digital exhibit will play during the live exhibit, as well as be shared on SFA’s centennial website and other digital venues. 

Event Info 

The Centennial Axe Handle Exhibit will take place all day Sept. 18, 2023 in the Pearman Alumni Center Hall of Honor.

How to Submit Your Axe Handle

Physical Exhibit 

Alumni, faculty, staff and students wishing to temporarily loan their axe handle to the on-campus physical exhibit should complete the Axe Handle Temporary Custody Deposit and Information Form.

This document identifies who is loaning the axe handle, what they might want said about the axe handle, relevant contact info for returning the item, and associated class year. 

Digital Exhibit 

  1. Take a clear, high-resolution JPEG of your axe handle on a smart phone or camera. The axe handle should be placed flat on a table or background that will provide some contrast with the axe handle. 
  2. Prepare comments and memories on the meaning of the handle’s decorations, including a clarification of any Greek symbols or organizations represented on the item. 
  3. Fill out the Axe Handle Digital Exhibit form.

History of the Axe Handle Tradition

Sawyers and SFA students, holding axe handles, stand in front of a large crowd. Members of the assembly are showing the axe 'em hand sign.
The Sawyers officially passed the axe handle tradition to SFA in 2012.

The tradition of the axe handle can be traced back to the university’s decision to choose the Lumberjack as its mascot in 1923. Selected during a special assembly of students, faculty and staff, the Lumberjack was the overwhelming favorite. And we’re glad, because another choice was the Pine Cones, and “Pine ‘em, Cones” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. 

In 1927, the Sawyers — the first social club formed to promote school spirit — originated the axe handle tradition by decorating their axe handles with elaborate designs to represent their individual personalities. The Sawyers also started the tradition of pounding their axe handles on the ground or bleachers at sporting events to support SFA teams and fluster opponents. In fact, during the 1931 Battle of the Piney Woods, coach Gene White would credit the Sawyers and the noise they made as a key part of the Jacks victory that year. The Sawyers would later become the fraternity Delta Sigma Phi in the 1960s. 

The axe handle tradition would later be adopted by other members of the student body in 2012 and is continued today in the unique Purple Haze Student Section at SFA athletic games. First-year students have an opportunity to receive an axe handle every year during Holler @ Homer. To this day, students continue to personalize their axe handles in a unique showcase of their purple pride.