Carving going strong as Whittle the Wood progresses | CraigDailyPress.com

Carving going strong as Whittle the Wood progresses

Weekend to offer live music, vendors, contest results

Daughter and mother carvers Nicole, left, and Faye Braaten, both of Loveland, jokingly face off with their chain saws during the Whittle the Wood Rendezvous on Thursday afternoon. Faye has carved in all but one of the contest's 15 years, while this is Nicole's first time competing.

— Tree trunks continued the transformation process Thursday at the 15th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous carving competition — a popular festival, bringing thousands to Loudy-Simpson park in Craig each year.

Twelve carvers from five different states are participating in the 2014 competition, many of them familiar faces at the four-day event, which includes live music, vendors and other activities.

Defending champion carver Ron Eye, of Vernal, Utah, is back for his sixth Whittle the Wood, as is last year's runner-up and 2012 champion, Bongo Love.

Love, of Lafayette, wants to reclaim his spot at the top.

"The king is coming back," he said. "I'm not happy (about losing last year). I ran out of time, and it takes me a while to get over those losses."

It's Love's seventh Whittle the Wood, coming to Craig with no carving experience his first visit.

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"Whittle the Wood is part of me," he said. "If I didn't come here, I wouldn't be a carver, so I have lots of appreciation for this contest and the people of Craig."

Other veterans of the competition are in Craig, as well. Chad Stratton has been in Whittle the Wood nine times, while Robert Waits is at his 11th competition and Faye Braaten, the “Chainsaw Mama,” is making it to her 14th out of 15.

Braaten's daughter, Nicole, also is carving this year, her first at Whittle the Wood. Nicole is one of three first-time participants, along with Doman Gorecki, from Roosevelt, Utah, and Jesse Beeson, of Gainesboro, Tennessee.

"I had a friend call me, and he said there were three competitions out here around the same time," Beeson said about coming to Craig for the first time all the way from Tennesee. "Normally I do wholesale, and I was getting burnt out on that, so pretty much this is a vacation. Who wouldn't want to come out to Colorado and carve?"

Beeson is not the only one to make a lengthy trip. Ted Scherer, of Columbus, Ohio, was at Whittle the Wood in 2012 and is back for his second competition. He is joined by second-time contestants Matt Holmes and Patrick Armstrong. Jon Parker rounded out this year's field, coming to Craig for the fourth time.

Carvers held a lottery to pick their trunks Wednesday morning and began with initial cuts soon afterward. Beeson drew the first pick and selected the largest trunk of the bunch. He was planning on carving two eagles in flight, he said.

"I might have to adjust because I haven't looked too closely at my trunk yet, but usually when I get my mind set on something, I'll make it happen," he said.

The 12 artisans approach their entries at different rates of speed and with various tactics. Some have started by focusing on the basic shape of their planned design before anything else, while others jumped in, bringing out more intricate details.

Likewise, some carvers have made the decision to shy away from the traditional vertical statue presentation and have opted to go horizontal, in some cases even cutting their stumps into separate pieces to be reassembled.

As for subject matter, all types of things are possible, from a jovial Viking to a peaceful dove.

The work of Stratton, of South Jordan, Utah, shows something no one else has brought forth: tentacles.

"It's going to be a kraken, like a big octopus," he said while taking a break Wednesday evening.

Others are more abstract. Nicole Braaten, of Loveland, is bringing out the shape of a heart atop her piece, which she plans to follow by carving out inspirational words down the side.

She said the image came to her mind after a Bible study session earlier this week.

"It's going to be called 'New Life,'" she said.

Armstrong had his carving in mind well in advance, working from a poster from Museum of Northwest Colorado promoting the Moffat Railroad. The title, "Top o' the World," references the ambition of financier David Moffat to bring a train line through the area, ultimately ending it in Craig.

"This town has got a real interesting history," he said.

Carving will continue Friday and Saturday as the event expands and organizers bring in the live music portion, along with other attractions.

For more information and updates on Whittle the Wood, visit http://www.facebook.com/whittlethewood or http://www.twitter.com/WhittletheWood.

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.

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

15th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous

The event continues through Saturday, featuring 12 carvers from across the country. All events take place at Loudy-Simpson Park unless otherwise noted.

Schedule

Friday

9 a.m. to dusk — Carving all day

4 p.m. — Performance by Dixie Leadfoot & The Chrome Struts

6 p.m. — Performance by Madison Rising

7:30 p.m. — Car Show Cruise along Victory Way

Saturday

8 a.m. — Wake the Whittler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run

9 a.m. — Final stages of carving

10 a.m. — Events begin, including arts and crafts fair, food and crafts vendors, a beer garden and a silent auction

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Bear River Young Life Car and Motorcycle Show, downtown Craig

1 p.m. — Quick Carve Competition

1 p.m. — Performance by SandRock Sound

3 p.m. — Performance by Tuscan Road

5 p.m. — Announcement of winning carvers

5:30 p.m. — Performance by Atlanta Rhythm Section

There is no admission for spectators at Whittle the Wood or the Car Show. Coolers are welcome at Whittle the Wood, but alcohol is not allowed beyond that provided at the beer garden. Free shuttles will be available all day during the Saturday activities of Whittle the Wood from The OP Bar and Grill, 534 E. Victory Way; Mathers' Bar, 420 Yampa Ave.; J.W. Snack's Bar & Grill, 210 E. Victory Way; and Kmart, 1198 W. Victory Way. For more information about Whittle the Wood, call 970-826-2029 or visit http://www.whittlethewood.com, http://www.facebook.com/…> or http://www.twitter.com/w…>. For more information about the Car Show's activities, which includes cash prizes for entrants and a poker walk for spectators, call 970-629-9600 or visit http://www.facebook.com/brylcarshow.

15th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous

The event continues through Saturday, featuring 12 carvers from across the country. All events take place at Loudy-Simpson Park unless otherwise noted.

Schedule

Friday

9 a.m. to dusk — Carving all day

4 p.m. — Performance by Dixie Leadfoot & The Chrome Struts

6 p.m. — Performance by Madison Rising

7:30 p.m. — Car Show Cruise along Victory Way

Saturday

8 a.m. — Wake the Whittler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run

9 a.m. — Final stages of carving

10 a.m. — Events begin, including arts and crafts fair, food and crafts vendors, a beer garden and a silent auction

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Bear River Young Life Car and Motorcycle Show, downtown Craig

1 p.m. — Quick Carve Competition

1 p.m. — Performance by SandRock Sound

3 p.m. — Performance by Tuscan Road

5 p.m. — Announcement of winning carvers

5:30 p.m. — Performance by Atlanta Rhythm Section

There is no admission for spectators at Whittle the Wood or the Car Show. Coolers are welcome at Whittle the Wood, but alcohol is not allowed beyond that provided at the beer garden. Free shuttles will be available all day during the Saturday activities of Whittle the Wood from The OP Bar and Grill, 534 E. Victory Way; Mathers’ Bar, 420 Yampa Ave.; J.W. Snack’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Victory Way; and Kmart, 1198 W. Victory Way. For more information about Whittle the Wood, call 970-826-2029 or visit http://www.whittlethewood.com, http://www.facebook.com/…> or http://www.twitter.com/w…>. For more information about the Car Show’s activities, which includes cash prizes for entrants and a poker walk for spectators, call 970-629-9600 or visit http://www.facebook.com/brylcarshow.