Craig city officials: Whittle the Wood could see largest crowd ever |

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Craig city officials: Whittle the Wood could see largest crowd ever

Participants at last year’s Whittle the Wood Rendezvous in Craig. This year’s competition begins Wednesday and culminates Saturday at Craig City Park.

Schedule for the 11th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous:


9 a.m. Tree lottery at the south end of City Park. Carvers begin sculpting after the lottery.


8 a.m. Carvers work on their sculptures.


8 a.m. Carvers work on their sculptures.


8 a.m. Carvers work on their sculptures.

Mid-morning. A silent auction begins.

Noon. Art, craft and food vendors are available throughout City Park.

3 p.m. Live music begins.

4 p.m. Wood-carving judging begins

5 p.m. Silent auction winners determined, carver awards ceremony takes place.

5:30 p.m. Blue Oyster Cult performs a free public concert.

— All events take place at Craig City Park

When 12 wood carvers start their chainsaws this morning at Craig City Park, the rumble of their machines will provide the soundtrack to the 11th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.

By the time the wood carvings are complete and judged Saturday afternoon, 12 tree stumps — transformed into three-dimensional works of art over the three-day competition — might be exposed to the largest crowd in the event's history, city officials said.

Craig Parks and Recreation director Dave Pike said interest in the event has been high since it was announced 1970s rock band Blue Oyster Cult would play a free concert at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at City Park.

Saturday will also feature a silent auction, arts, crafts, food vendors and additional live music from Uncle Fester.

"This year I've had more phone calls," Pike said. "And most of them say the same thing, 'Is Blue Oyster Cult playing?' and, 'Is it really free?'"

He said in combination with the 2010 Colorado State High School Rodeo Finals, which run today through Sunday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, Craig City Park might have "a lot of people milling around there."

Nice weather could help bring the crowds out as well.

Temperatures are expected to hover around 80 degrees with a slight chance for thunderstorms today, and otherwise clear skies this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

"Every year it gets a little bigger," Pike said. "I think it's a successful festival because things run smoothly and the price is right."

Crowds have reached more than 5,000 spectators in recent years.

To keep things running smoothly, Pike said city officials will implement extra security measures this year.

He said they plan to add barricades between the stage and the crowd and secure the area behind the stage.

Despite all the hype surrounding Saturday's concert, Pike said the festival will remain centered around the chainsaw carvings.

"The carvings aren't going to get lost," he said. "It's fun to watch what happens and see how things transform between Wednesday and Saturday."

Carvers receive their stumps via a lottery today, and can begin carving immediately after.

The carvers set their designs and assess how to work around the realities of the stump they were assigned.

They use several different chainsaws to achieve the design they want, from wild animals to human statues.

Pike said carvers work on different schedules, with some finishing their entry as soon as Thursday afternoon.

Others, he said, might save a few finishing touches to please the crowds Saturday.

Whittle the Wood carver Sheldon Roberts, who won first place and the People's Choice Award at the 2001 festival, said he looks forward to the festival every year as a chance to spend time with his carving family.

"For me, its more about the camaraderie," he said Tuesday, about to leave for Craig from his home in Cañon City. "I learn from the carvers, every single one of them. They're all my buddies. I love them. I like to see their work."

Roberts called the competition mostly friendly, but he won't mind the large crowds Saturday.

"I'm going to show off, so I think I like to have a lot of people around," he said.

Awards for first through third place prizes will be judged by a panel, while spectators can vote on the People's Choice Award.

But for Roberts, the event won't end at the awards ceremony.

"I'm pumped now," he said. "I basically get to open for Blue Oyster Cult."