Whittle the wood makes 'lemonade from lemons'


Who says Craig doesn't recycle?
For the past three days, carvers in City Park have been taking dead trees and turning them into very useful things.
No, we're not talking about the wooden sculptures that dot the park and will soon spread to other locations across town.
The useful things are a little less tangible. Things such as civic pride, media exposure, an improved tourist market and name recognition.
A TV crew from Denver was filming in the park Friday afternoon. Two years ago, another crew produced a piece on the Whittle the Wood festival that caught the eye of Chad and Patty Stratton.
"We saw it on TV on some cable channel," Patty Stratton said. "My husband was carving with hand tools at the time and we saw the competition on TV and decided to come check it out."
Chad Stratton is now competing as a carver for the second time.
Dee Hines, a teacher from a small town north of Muskogee, Okla., came to see how the carvers do it. He was interested in finding out how to become a competitor.
"I'm getting close to retirement and I'm really interested in doing some wood sculpture," he said.
John Talbot, 82, recently moved to Craig from Golden. This was his first chance to see the competition.
"It's really something, and I'm not easily impressed. I've seen a lot of things all over the world and I really like this novel idea to make trees that have died come alive again."
The carvers and out-of-towners have been complimentary about the friendliness of Craig residents, which is yet another positive outcome of the festival. People leave here feeling good about our town.
The City Council, the city staff and the Parks and Recreation Department deserve a hand for turning a problem (dead trees) into an opportunity and reaping some generous rewards that benefit the entire town in the process.
The city underwrites the festival to the tune of about $12,500. We think that's a pretty good investment considering the amount of good will and publicity the carving competition generates.
OK, maybe it's a stretch to call Whittle the Wood a recycling program. But it's still a great example of the old adage, "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade."

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