Whittle the Wood events, which take place at Loudy-Simpson Park, 500 S. Ranney St.:
■ 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
■ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org