Saturday big day for Whittle the Wood finale | CraigDailyPress.com

Saturday big day for Whittle the Wood finale

Winning carvings announced, Jefferson Starship concert ends event

The carvers of the 16th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous joke around with Craig Parks & Recreation Director Dave Pike at the end of the day earlier this week in Loudy-Simpson Park. Back row, from left: Matt Ounsworth, of Fort Collins; Scott Hook, of Laurel, Montana; Robert Waits, of Diamond Springs, California; Jon Parker, of Manitou Springs; Damon Gorecki, of Roosevelt, Utah; David Mitchell, of Arvada. Middle row: Nicole Braaten, of Loveland; Bongo Love, of Lafayette; Dave Pike; Ted Scherer, of Galloway, Ohio; Jim Valentine, of Midvale, Utah. Front: Chad Stratton, of West Jordan, Utah. A twelfth carver, Patrick Armstrong, of Pueblo West, had to leave in the middle of the contest due to a health issue, though the remaining competitors will likely finish his work as a piece for auction during the final day of the event Saturday. Among the happenings are the chance to see the completed carvings, the Quick Carve competition, a beer garden, an early morning 5K and Fun Run, multiple vendors and live music, including headlining band Jefferson Starship.

It was only a few days ago, that they were mere stumps, indiscernible from any other log in the forest. But, if you visit Loudy-Simpson Park this weekend, you'll see something far different than just a hunk of wood.

The 16th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous comes to a close Saturday with the big finish, as the crowds flock to the Craig park to check out newly completed masterpieces and engage in plenty more activities.

Out of the 12 total carving stations, 11 will have a freshly carved and touched-up piece of art by the end of the day, unlikely anything anyone's seen before. Stump eight has been lonely throughout the week, as carver Patrick Armstrong, of Pueblo West, had to leave early in the competition due to an unforeseen illness.

However, Armstrong's partially done carving will still get attention, said organizer Dave Pike. He hopes to have other carvers who have already completed their work each add something to the item, which will then be sold as part of the auction that helps both the carvers and the city bring in a little funding.

Among those who have participated are Matt Ounsworth, of Fort Collins; Scott Hook, of Laurel, Montana; Robert Waits, of Diamond Springs, California; Jon Parker, of Manitou Springs; Damon Gorecki, of Roosevelt, Utah; David Mitchell, of Arvada; Nicole Braaten, of Loveland; Bongo Love, of Lafayette; Ted Scherer, of Galloway, Ohio; Jim Valentine, of Midvale, Utah; and Chad Stratton, of West Jordan, Utah.

Waits has competed in Whittle the Wood more often than anyone this year, 12 times, whizzing through a piece with two parent owls guarding their owlets in a nest below.

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He calls it "Big Hooters."

"I was going to do something else, but I thought of this a few days before I came down," he said, shortly after completing a paint job Friday. "It's a great turnout this year."

Dennis and Lynn Falloon were among the crowd checking out the progress of each carving, all of which were unique in their own way, Dennis noted.

"I think it's amazing what they come up with," Lynn said.

For those who were unable to see the day-by-day work, the Quick Carve competition Saturday afternoon will allow everyone present to see a lightning fast transformation of wood to art on a smaller scale. The day will be full of exciting things to do for all ages, including a bouncy house with a waterslide sponsored by the Moffat County High School volleyball team, dozens of booths with food and crafts, a beer garden and live music by Steve Thomas Band, capped off with a performance by rock giants Jefferson Starship.

Shuttles will also be transporting people downtown for the Bear River Young Life Car Show.

Pike said he is keeping his fingers crossed that everything goes well, though he's had little to worry about, especially weather-wise.

"It's toasty out this week, but that brings out the beer drinkers," he said happily.

First year contestant Ounsworth polished off his piece — a beer-themed carving called "Hop Spirit" — Friday, but he will be showing everyone his speed as part of the Quick Carve.

Ounsworth said he hopes to prove himself among the veterans.

"My goal is just to get invited back next year," he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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