Canon City resident Sheldon Roberts sculpts Thursday during the Whittle the Wood Rendezvous at Craig City Park.

Photo by Ben McCanna

Canon City resident Sheldon Roberts sculpts Thursday during the Whittle the Wood Rendezvous at Craig City Park.

Whittle the Wood artists begin creations for Craig contest

Remaining schedule for the 12th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous:

Thursday:

• 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. — carving

Friday:

• 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. — carving

Saturday:

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — carving

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Bear River Young Life & Colorado Cruisers Car & Motorcycle Show

• 1 p.m. — quick carve competition

• 3 p.m. — Filthy Children free concert

• 4 p.m. — final judging

• 5 p.m. — The Outlaws free concert

— Events take place at Craig City Park, 605 Washington St. The car and motorcycle show takes place in the 400 and 500 blocks of Yampa Avenue.

Mother Nature tried to put a halt to the 12th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous on Thursday, but managed only to force a short break on the much-anticipated weekend.

The 11 artists who are participating in this year’s woodcarving competition were out of commission for about an hour-and-a-half Thursday due to rain and hail in Craig.

After the weather cleared, the carvers went back to work.

“The weather forced me to stop at about 3:30 p.m.,” said Ken Braun, of Cortez. “I was forced to play catch-up, but it wasn’t too much of a hassle.”

This year’s carving contest kicked off Wednesday in Craig City Park.

The artists started things out by participating in the tree selection lottery, in which Braun chose his stump last.

The Cortez artist said he had a hard time deciding what to do with “the stump no one else wanted.”

“I had to make the stump look bigger than it actually was to make something out of it,” he said. “I had to do some putting back together with glue. When all is said and done, I will have about 32 hours in this project.”

Jon Parker, of Nederland, picked seventh in the lottery. He said he was excited about meeting other artists at the event.

“I want to go around and meet everyone and see what other things they do in the carving arena,” he said. “This is my first time and the initial approach takes awhile.”

Parker said he decided to combine three of his basic carvings — a moose, eagle and bear — into one piece.

City park is set up differently this year than past contests.

In the past, carvers were spread throughout the park. This year, however, the artists are lined along Washington Street.

Dave Pike, Craig Parks and Recreation director, said the new arrangement provides better viewing for spectators.

Artist Mark Rexinger, of Lincoln, Neb., traveled the furthest of any competitor. He said he likes the new arrangement.

“The main reason I compete here is because it is fun to come out and see what all the other carvers can come up with,” he said. “It is like a family reunion every year and it is just a good time.”

Rexinger said he’s going with his usual sculpture — an eagle — for this year’s contest.

“I try and find out any cracks that my stump has and see what I can make work,” he said. “I did an eagle last year and I plan to do another one this year and hopefully I don’t have to glue too much stuff on.”

Robert Waits, of Lander, Wyo., said the new set-up makes the competition more fun.

A cartoon he drew inspired Waits’ sculpture, titled “Stop Global Warming,” featuring a bear wearing sunglasses and holding a melted cone.

“This is an all-new project just for Craig,” he said. “I thought it would be cool and it is a bigger version of all the bears I have done in the past.”

The artists will continue to carve from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today before finishing sculptures by 4 p.m. Saturday.

Final judging will occur after and winners will be announced before a free concert by the main act, Southern rock greats The Outlaws, who will play at 5 p.m. Denver funk band Filthy Children will open at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Another change to this year’s event is that visitors will not be allowed to bring their own alcohol Saturday.

Alcoholic beverages will be on sale by concession workers. IDs will be checked at the gate and spectators of legal drinking age will receive a bracelet.

For more information on the event, visit www.whittlethewood.com.

Meet the 11 artists participating in this year's Whittle the Wood Rendezvous in Craig:

photo

Faye Braaten

Name: Faye Braaten

Hometown: Loveland

Years carving: 12

Years at Whittle the Wood: 12

What was the primary reason you began carving?

“I never really thought of it until the lord opened it up to me. Also, I have had great support from my husband.”

photo

Ken Braun

Name: Ken Braun

Hometown: Cortez

Years carving: 5

Years at Whittle the Wood: 3

Why did you decide to start carving?

“It’s a passion and the love of my life.”

photo

Forrest Dorman

Name: Forrest Dorman

Hometown: Florence

Years carving: 13

Years at Whittle the Wood: 7

Why do you enjoy woodcarving?

“I love art, I have always drawn, and I love to see a huge piece of wood turn into something awesome.”

photo

Ron Eye

Name: Ron Eye

Hometown: Vernal, Utah

Years Carving: 10

Years at Whittle the Wood: 4

Why did you decide to start carving?

“I liked it and it beats working. I just have to work two hours a day carving with a chainsaw.”

photo

Bongo Love

Name: Bongo Love

Hometown: Lafayette

Years carving: 5

Years at Whittle the Wood: 4

How do you think you will do this year after winning last year’s competition?

“A little tough for me, everyone wants to kick my (butt).”

photo

Mark Mahorney

Name: Mark Mahorney

Hometown: Kremmling

Years carving: 4

Years at Whittle the Wood: 2

How did you get into woodcarving?

“I used to whittle when I was young, and then later people started asking me to carve trees.”

photo

Jon Parker

Name: Jon Parker

Hometown: Nederland

Years carving: 7

Years at Whittle the Wood: First year

How did you get started in woodcarving?

“Well, I have always been artistic and luckily ran into some carvers.”

photo

Mark Rexinger

Name: Mark Rexinger

Hometown: Lincoln, Neb.

Years carving: 9

Years at Whittle the Wood: 4

Why did you decide to start carving?

“It looked fun, I thought I could do it, so I did.”

photo

Sheldon Roberts

Name: Sheldon Roberts

Hometown: Canon City

Years carving: 30

Years at Whittle the Wood: 6

Why did you decide to start carving?

“It is just a great way to express yourself.”

photo

Chad Stratton

Name: Chad Stratton

Hometown: West Jordan, Utah

Years carving: 12

Years at Whittle the Wood: 7

Why do you enjoy carving?

“It’s fun and a release for every day.”

photo

Robert Waits

Name: Robert Waits

Hometown: Lander, Wyo.

Years carving: 20

Years at Whittle the Wood: 9

How did you get into carving?

“Well, unemployment happened, I started whittling then and just started selling small carvings.”

(Interviews for bios by Skyler Leonard, special to the Daily Press)

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