Bongo Love, of Lafayette, holds up the People’s Choice award he won Saturday in the Whittle the Wood Rendezvous carving competition at Loudy-Simpson Park. Love also took first place in the Judge’s Choice category with his carving titled “Crocodile Sundae.”

Photo by Bridget Manley

Bongo Love, of Lafayette, holds up the People’s Choice award he won Saturday in the Whittle the Wood Rendezvous carving competition at Loudy-Simpson Park. Love also took first place in the Judge’s Choice category with his carving titled “Crocodile Sundae.”

Whittle the Wood draws thousands to Loudy-Simpson Park


Whittle the Wood Rendezvous winners:

(Award — carver — entry title)

• People’s Choice: Bongo Love, “Crocodile Sundae”

• Artists’ choice: Robert Waits, “Wizard Hollow”

• Judges’ choice:

(Place — cash prize — carver — entry title)

— First place, $1,000: Bongo Love, “Crocodile Sundae”

— Second place, $750: Steven Higgins, “Guardians of the Forest”

— Third place, $500: Ken Braun, “Doomed”


Whittle the Wood Rendezvous Concerts

As the music started late Saturday afternoon at Loudy-Simpson Park, a few bold dancers stepped out onto the grass.

Before long, a crowd had gathered in front of the stage, swaying singly or in pairs as Alter Eagles: The Definitive Eagles Tribute performed for a crowd that covered the lawn.

The performance was the capstone of the 13th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.

Dave Pike, Craig Parks and Recreation Department director, said the event was an unquestionable success.

“On average, this is every bit as well attended” as past Whittle the Wood events hosted at Veterans Memorial Park, he said.

Pike estimated that at least 2,500 people turned out for the Alter Eagles concert. About twice that number came through the park throughout the day, he said.

The Tropical Coyotes kicked off the concert schedule Friday night, followed by Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Experience earlier Saturday afternoon.

“I think everybody enjoyed (the bands) … especially this act,” Pike said as Alter Eagles continued to play. “This one’s definitely a hit." Craig Police Department officers were on hand at the park Saturday but encountered no major incidents and only one “surprise” when six tour buses drove into the park in search of restrooms, Sgt. Corey Wagner said.

“That’s been the biggest thing that we’ve had,” he said. “The crowd has been awesome.”

Pike said the same.

“It’s gone really good,” he said. “We haven’t had any trouble.”

The four-day event also featured a wood-carving competition in which 11 carvers went toe-to-toe for top honors in several categories.

Returning Whittle the Wood carver Bongo Love, of Lafayette, left with back-to-back wins in the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice categories.

“I didn’t think about it,” Love said after receiving the awards. “I just came here to have a good time.”

That’s not to say winning wasn’t on his mind.

“I knew that I had to win because it’s hard to keep on winning so you’ve got to up your game all the time,” he said.

The work of Love and other carvers in the contest left an impression on Maggie St. John, of Craig.

The entries in this year’s competition were “awesome,” she said. “They did such a great job,” she said.

In her mind, the change of venue from what was formerly known as Craig City Park didn’t diminish the event.

Loudy-Simpson Park offered more space and more shade, she said.

“I think that was a great improvement from City Park,” she said.

Whittle the Wood also drew attendees from farther-flung locations.

Barry Roby, of Bakersfield, Calif., was visiting friends in Steamboat Springs and came to the event with them Saturday, he said.

“This is kind of fun,” he said. “It’s a great outing for a community.”

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David Moore 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Maggie, and IMO, the change of venue was long overdue. I took the shuttle, which was as fun and enjoyable as the rest of the day, and ended up being dropped off at JW's to enjoy more music long into the night. The Congress was really good, amazing what three guys can do. I for one am very happy they decided to change the location, not so cramped, no neighborhoods invaded and fun for all....with plenty of shade, something lacking at the park. I did however miss the cookouts at my two good friends' houses within a rocks throw of the park, that was the highlight of the day as we could have fun, eat great food and hear and see the concert clear as a bell...I will miss those fun times for sure. Good job putting on this annual event, I will always attend.


wymtnman 4 years, 9 months ago

I think it was a great event. This is my second year in a row. I really liked the location change and the shuttles were a great idea. Both bands were fantastic and the food was out of this world. It's amazing what these folks can do with a piece of wood. Personally I liked the ship carving the best but all were great. I traveled from SW WY and will continue to attend each year. This is truly a winner that Craig has come up with, thanks


David Moore 4 years, 9 months ago

Oh, the food, forgot about that. The Gyros by the Lions club were out of this world, I shared one with a friend and went back for another. The price was right too and I would have paid more for them. The cheesesteak was awesome, from the Red Rooster, or something like that. I have to admit that this was the first year that there were actually good food choices other than brats and burgers. Well done. Wymtnman, glad you enjoyed it.


irishbrat 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm with both of you...better place, more room, more shade, GREAT food! I no longer stay in town for Grand Olde West Days but I stay in town for the weekend of whittle the wood. I don't have to spend hours looking for everything and/or driving all over town to different events. (I don't go to the car show). Very talented carvers!


DAILYREADER 4 years, 9 months ago

The change to Loudy was a big improvement. more room, more shade, more vendors, and parking seemed to be fine. I'm sure the shuttle was a big help. In my opinion, the only drawback was the carvers being on the road. That left only the north side of the carvers for watching. Not a huge problem, however. Otherwise, everything was great. Super job Dave and crew.


kp81625 4 years, 9 months ago

I have been to this event for many years. I have to say that if you want to go to the park and stay for the day, ok then the move was a success. I really didn't like that if I wanted to go somewhere else, I had to wait for a shuttle or risk losing my parking spot. I ended up staying for the day but got to thinking, what about the non-drought years when the mosquitos are driving everyone nuts. I also made it a point to talk to some of the carvers that have come back year after year. They said that usually they have people stopping by all week long, and this year since they were, "out in the middle of nowhere", their words not mine, they did not have that happen. It is important for them to be seen all week long, as they have a lot more sales that way. I can't believe that the downtown businesses saw much business from this either. I know the car show was down there, but I didn't even go to that as I'm sure other people didn't either.


Jessica Horne 4 years, 9 months ago

My only question is why can't we open the public restrooms onsite? With Lil kids porta jons are pretty tricky. I did like the location though :)


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