Matt Holmes, of Santa Cruz, Calif., cuts into a log Wednesday, the first day of the 13th Whittle the Wood Rendezvous in Loudy-Simpson Park. Eleven contestants are entered in event, which also includes free concerts and an arts and craft show.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Matt Holmes, of Santa Cruz, Calif., cuts into a log Wednesday, the first day of the 13th Whittle the Wood Rendezvous in Loudy-Simpson Park. Eleven contestants are entered in event, which also includes free concerts and an arts and craft show.

Carvers converge in Craig for Whittle the Wood Rendezvous

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Danny Zeadker of Wauseon, Ohio, begins working on a wood sculpture Wednesday for the annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous in Loudy-Simpson Park. He’s been wood carving for 12 years and said carvings don’t always turn out the way the artist initially envisions them. “The log always wins,” he said.

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Danny Zeadker

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Ted Scherer

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Chad Stratton

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Matt Holmes

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Evan Henley

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Robert Waits

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Glynis Verrazzano

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Steven Higgins

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Ken Braun

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Bongo Love

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Jon C. Parker

Whittle the Wood Rendezvous schedule of events

Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at Loudy-Simpson Park, 500 S. Ranney St.

Thursday

• 9 a.m. to dusk: Entrants compete in annual wood carving competitions; carving area open for viewing

Friday

• 9 a.m. to dusk: Entrants compete in annual wood carving competitions; carving area open for viewing

• 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. “The Tropical Coyotes” performs in a free concert. A beer garden opens at 5 p.m.

• 8 p.m. “The Congress” performs at J.W. Snack’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Victory Way. There is no cover charge, but all attendees must be at least 21. Call 826-0468.

Saturday

• 7:30 a.m. Registration opens for “Wake the Whittler,” a 5K walk/run and mile-long fun run to benefit Friends of Moffat County Education. The race begins at 8 a.m. Participants can pre-register at the Craig Parks and Recreation Department, 300 W. Fourth St.

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Entrants compete in annual wood carving competitions; carving area open for viewing

• 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. A free shuttle service departs for Loudy-Simpson Park every 30 minutes from the following locations:

— OP Bar & Grill, 534 E. Victory Way

— J.W. Snack’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Victory Way

— Mathers’ Lounge & Café, 420 Yampa Ave.

— Kmart parking lot, 1198 W. Victory Way

• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A free arts and crafts fair takes place, featuring food vendors and a beer garden

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Bear River Young Life and Colorado Cruisers car and motorcycle show takes place on the 400 and 500 blocks of Yampa Avenue in downtown Craig

• 1 p.m. Carvers compete in a quick-carve competition

• 3 p.m. “Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Experience” performs in a free concert

• 4 p.m. A silent auction closes for wood carvings created in the competition

• 5 p.m. Winners in the wood carving competition will be announced

• 5:30 p.m. “Alter Eagles: The Definitive Eagles Tribute” performs in a free concert

• 8 p.m. “The Congress” performs at J.W. Snack’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Victory Way. There is no cover charge, but all attendees must be at least 21. Call 826-0468.

— For more information, call 826-2029 or visit www.whittlethewoo...

More than two decades have passed since Robert Waits punched a timecard.

He’s earned his bread through decorative woodcarving for 21 years and counting.

From his shop in Lander, Wyo., samples of his handiwork have found their way to locales across the globe, he said.

Waits, a nine-year participant in the annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous carving competition, spread his arms wide Wednesday morning at Loudy-Simpson Park and smiled.

His work is everywhere, even in Craig, “here in all this grandeur,” he said as the roar of chainsaws nearly drowned out his words.

That sound and smell of fresh-cut wood was a telltale sign that one of the city’s biggest events of the year was underway.

Waits and 10 other carvers fired up their chainsaws Wednesday morning at the park, kicking off the four-day event that includes free concerts, food and beer vendors and a carving competition, the 13th annual festival’s signature attraction.

Residents can watch sculptures-in-progress take shape from 9 a.m. to dusk today at Loudy-Simpson, 500 S. Ranney St. Entries also can be viewed throughout the day before they are sold in a silent auction that closes at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Half of the auction proceeds go to the carvers, and the remainder goes back to the City of Craig to help pay for the event.

Sculptures can fetch anywhere from $50 to $500, depending on size, said Dave Pike, Craig Parks and Recreation director.

Competitors also show off their skills in a quick-carve competition that starts at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Carvers have an hour to produce sculptures that an auctioneer will sell to the highest bidder.

As competitors took the first cuts out of totem-sized logs lined up at the park, they each had a different vision of what the finished product would look like.

Danny Zeadker, of Wauseon, Ohio, envisioned a sculpture involving a bear, a boat and a fish.

“It’s my signature piece,” he said.

But in his 12 years as a wood carver, he’s learned it’s best not to be dead-set on one design. Sometimes the wood has other plans.

“The log always wins,” he said.

He is one of five artists participating in Whittle the Wood for the first time this year.

Others, like four-time competitor Ken Braun of Cortez, are familiar faces at the event.

For his entry, he imagined a man besieged by spiders.

He even had a title in mind: “Doomed.”

“I like carving things that are different” and that “evoke an emotion in somebody,” and a legion of creepy-crawlies seemed to fit the bill, he said.

For Braun, competitions are an opportunity to mingle with other artisans who transform stumps and logs into works of art.

Whittle the Wood is no exception in his mind.

The event is a stage upon which to create “something magnificent,” he said.

For more information about Whittle the Wood, call 826-2029 or visit www.whittlethewood.com.

Meet the carvers

Name: Danny Zeadker

Hometown: Wauseon, Ohio

Years carving: 12

Years at Whittle the Wood: First year

What do you like about wood carving? “You take a log that is firewood to everyone else … and you make an art object out of it.”

Name: Ted Scherer

Hometown: Galloway, Ohio

Years carving: 40 years overall and 20 years with a chainsaw

Years at Whittle the Wood: First year

Why did you decide to sign up for Whittle the Wood? “This just seemed like something fun to do. (It’s a) chance to meet a lot of other people from different places. Overall, I think it will be a lot of work, but it will be a lot of fun.”

Name: Chad Stratton

Hometown: South Jordan, Utah

Years carving: 12 years

Years at Whittle the Wood: Seven

Why do you like wood carving? “It’s fun. It’s relaxing to me.”

Name: Matt Holmes

Hometown: Santa Cruz, Calif.

Years carving: About six years

Years at Whittle the Wood: First year

What got you started in wood carving? “I kind of grew up seeing it as a kid and always wanted to do it.”

Name: Evan Henley

Hometown: Pueblo

Years carving: 16

Years at Whittle the Wood: 4

What got you started in wood carving? “My dad taught me.”

Name: Robert Waits

Hometown: Lander, Wyo.

Years carving: 22

Years at Whittle the Wood: Nine

What do you plan to carve in the competition? “Probably bears. It probably seems passé (but) I’ve done everything else.”

Name: Glynis Verrazzano

Hometown: Mancos

Years carving: One

Years at Whittle the Wood: First year

Why did you decide to participate in Whittle the Wood? “I apprentice with Ken Braun (another Whittle the Wood competitor). He was like, ‘Let’s go, they’ve got a spot.’ I was like, ‘OK, let’s give it a shot.’”

Name: Steven Higgins

Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

Years carving: 16 years

Years at Whittle the Wood: First year

Why did you decide to participate in Whittle the Wood? “(I) just heard it was a good show.”

Name: Ken Braun

Hometown: Cortez

Years carving: Six

Years at Whittle the Wood: Four

What do you like about wood carving? “I like the freedom of being able to do what I love for a living and be able to create something out of the wood that’s extraordinary … a snapshot, if you will, to immortalize an image in wood.”

Name: Bongo Love

Hometown: Lafayette

Years carving: Six

Years at Whittle the Wood: Five

What do you like about wood carving? “It puts you in a different zone and a different perspective of life.”

Name: Jon C. Parker

Hometown: Nederland, near Boulder

Years carving: Eight

Years at Whittle the Wood: Two

What attracted you to wood carving? “I always wanted to be an artist.”

— Interviews by Bridget Manley

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