Faye Braaten, a carver from Loveland, cuts a groove into her flower carving Thursday afternoon at Loudy Simpson Park. Braaten and 10 other carvers from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are competing in the 14th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. The final judging for their artwork will take place Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Faye Braaten, a carver from Loveland, cuts a groove into her flower carving Thursday afternoon at Loudy Simpson Park. Braaten and 10 other carvers from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are competing in the 14th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. The final judging for their artwork will take place Saturday afternoon.

Whittle the Wood kicks off in Craig

Schedule

Whittle the Wood events, which take place at Loudy-Simpson Park, 500 S. Ranney St.:

Friday

■ All day: Whittle the Wood carvers and vendors will be at Loudy-Simpson Park along the Yampa River all day

■ 6 p.m.: Live performance, Whitewater Ramble

Saturday

■ 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Car show

■ 1 p.m.: Quick carve competition

■ 3 p.m.: Live performance, Michael D Band

■ 4 p.m.: Final judging for wood carve competition

■ 5:30 p.m.: Headline performance, Cracker

Artists at the 14th annual Whittle the Wood

Fae Braaten, Loveland — 13th year

Robert Waits, Lander, Wyo. — 10th year

Chad Stratton, West Jordan, Utah, — eighth year

Bongo Love, Lafayette — sixth year

Ron Eye, Vernal, Utah — fifth year

Jon Parker, Nederland — third year

Evan Henley, Pueblo — third year

Patrick Armstrong, Pueblo — first year

Thomas Earing, Colorado Springs — first year

Nick Smith, Albuquerque, N.M. — first year

Steve Willette, Hahn's Peak — first year

Since Wednesday morning, Loudy Simpson Park’s typical serene morning scene has been disrupted by the buzzing of chainsaws and woodchips spraying all over.

But that’s the way it should be when the Whittle the Wood carving competition gets started.

The 14th annual Whittle the Wood officially began at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Loudy Simpson, with 11 artists from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming digging into their respective tree trunks, taking their shot at the contest-winning carving.

The carving competition will turn into a full-fledged festival today and Saturday, with a beer garden, art vendors and musical shows.

With good weather in the forecast, it is looking like another good Whittle the Wood for Craig.

“We’re always excited about this,” said Dave Pike, director of Craig Parks and Recreation. “We like having it out here at Loudy. It’s easier to manage out here. The carvers seem to be happy with it, which always is important. We’re looking forward to another good one.”

Whittle the Wood was first held at Loudy Simpson in 2012 on the south side of Craig, offering a larger venue for the festival to take place as it continues to get busier in the park today and Saturday.

The artists competing in this year’s competition feature some familiar faces. Bongo Love, last year’s champion, is back to defend his title from Lafayette, while Robert Waits and his wife, Cayenne, are back in Craig for the 10th time.

For those who have been here before, they are ready for another fun week.

“Craig is my second home,” said Love, who is working on a giant eagle carving for this year’s competition. “There’s no other place to be in Colorado right now.”

There also are four newcomers to the competition. All experienced woodcarving artists, the first-timers in Craig are excited to see what the other artists bring to the table.

“I’m feeling pretty ready for it,” said Nick Smith, of Albuquerque, N.M. “I’ve done about 30 contests since I’ve gotten into carving, but it always also depends on what everybody else makes.”

By Thursday afternoon the artists’ carvings had taken on their shape. During the contest’s final 36 hours, they will carve more detail, smooth and paint their work before the judging deadline at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Each artist hopes to win, but many are friends from seeing each other at competitions throughout the country.

“This is more of a low-pressure competition,” said Waits, of Lander, Wyo. “There’s the camaraderie between the artists from being here before, we’ve gotten a rapport and so we like to tease each other and have fun.”

Waits is competing at Whittle the Wood for the 10th time in its 14-year existence and said it is one of his can’t-miss events of the summer.

“They treat us good out here,” he said. “You get to know everybody and the park people are great, helping us out all the time. I can’t help myself but to come. It proves to be fun every year.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com

Comments

dvoloshin 10 months, 1 week ago

Please let us know where the carvings are being displayed in our community, after the Whittle the Wood Competition.

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