Craig judges trim down list to name Whittle the Wood winner | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig judges trim down list to name Whittle the Wood winner

17th annual weekend festival includes music from Trail, Subdudes

Robert Waits is a few birds short of a conspiracy, the collective name for ravens, but is happy to have won the 17th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous for his carving, "Never More." This is the second consecutive first-place victory for Waits, from Diamond Springs, California, who was selected as the winner of the annual festival Saturday at Loudy-Simpson Park.

With 17 successful years now in the books, Whittle the Wood RendezvousWhittle the Wood Rendezvous remains a favorite for Craig and visitors alike. remains a favorite for Craig and visitors alike.

Whittle the Wood Rendezvous remains a favorite for Craig and visitors alike.

The collection of freshly constructed wooden carvings, unbridled music and more came to a close Saturday as hundreds gathered in Loudy-Simpson Park to view the works of art on display, take in the music and otherwise just see what the buzz is all about during Father's Day weekend in Craig.

With a full day that included the Wake the Whittler 5KWake the Whittler 5K hosted by Friends of Moffat County Education and the downtown hosted by Friends of Moffat County Education and the downtown Bear River Young Life Car ShowBear River Young Life Car Show, the place to end the day properly was the park amid the festival food booths, vendors from all around and of course the men who put the “whittle” in Whittle the Wood., the place to end the day properly was the park amid the festival food booths, vendors from all around and of course the men who put the "whittle" in Whittle the Wood.

Wake the Whittler 5K hosted by Friends of Moffat County Education and the downtown Bear River Young Life Car Show, the place to end the day properly was the park amid the festival food booths, vendors from all around and of course the men who put the "whittle" in Whittle the Wood.

The visiting woodcarvers who spent the last three days bringing out a unique creation from a tree stump gave observers a condensed version of their talents with the Quick Carve Competition, crafting smaller selections in just an hour, having already carved, varnished, painted and otherwise completed their entries for the competition.

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The list this year includes:

• Stump 1 — Joe Wenal, of Rifle: "Flushed," a family of pheasants

• Stump 2 — Jim Valentine, of Midvale, Utah: "Oblivious," a grizzly bear behind a Boy Scout on a cell phone

• Stump 3 — David Mitchell, of Salt Lake City, Utah: "The Magician," a large-headed oracle

• Stump 4 — Bongo Love, of Lafayette: "Papi Love," a father elephant and its baby

• Stump 5 — Damon Gorecki, of Salt Lake City, Utah: "My Mind," a bench with eagle features

• Stump 6 — Orlando Cordova, of Peñasco, New Mexico: "The Friendly Bears," a bench with bears and eagles

• Stump 7 — Scott Hook, of Gloversville, New York: "Learning to Howl," a wolf and cub

• Stump 8 — Chad Stratton, of South Jordan, Utah: "A Dragon's Tale," a dragon atop a castle tower

• Stump 9 — Matt Ounsworth, of Fort Collins: "When Pigs Fly," a winged pig

• Stump 10 — Robert Lyon, of Boulder: "Lakeside Dreams," a blue heron surrounded by fish, otters and other animals

• Stump 11 — Robert Waits, of Diamond Springs, California: "Never More," a pair of ravens

For the second consecutive year, Robert Waits ended the weekend $1,000 richer with first place, this year for the work, "Never More," a pair of ominous ravens lifelike enough to startle Edgar Allan Poe or anyone else, a shift in tone from his owl-themed winner last year known as "Big Hooters."

The woodworker from Diamond Springs, California, said the trip to Northwest Colorado always makes him feel "like a rock star."

Animals in sets of two was a successful choice this year, as Bongo Love's elephant-centric "Papi Love," a pachyderm parent and child, captured hearts of both judges and the crowd, earning second place and People's Choice for the man from Lafayette who's well-known by Craig.

In third was Scott Hook, of Gloversville, New York, who placed for the second of two years at Whittle the Wood with "Learning to Howl," a grown wolf and its pup engaging in what they do best.

Taking Carver's Choice was Chad Stratton, from South Jordan, Utah, for "A Dragon's Tale," a colorful depiction of the majestic monster overtaking a castle.

"Every time I come here, I'm going to do something over the top," he said. "It's the stuff I get to do that I don't normally get to do. I'm always going to go big and go crazy."

Bryson Lee, of Steamboat Springs, was among the spectators who cast his vote for Stratton's work.

"I like the color and detail that was put into it," the 10-year-old said, noting that a fondness for dragons also influenced his vote.

Bryson's mom, Katy, said it was the first time her family had been able to visit the Rendezvous.

"We've been to the park in Craig and seen a bunch of the finished sculptures but never got to go to the festival," she said.

On tap for entertainment were Trail, a country act from Parker, and finally the headlining band, The Subdudes, a group with New Orleans roots mixed with a more recent relocation to Fort Collins, providing a wide variety of tunes for the crowd, bringing in the accordion-heavy sounds of zydeco to the more mainstream notes of rock and R&B and plenty more in between to get people on their feet.

Craig's Eileen Joyce was happy to be able to share the experience with her daughter, Katrina, visiting from Washington, DC, each getting a temporary tattoo while awaiting musical sets.

"It's awesome, a perfect opportunity to see what this is all about," Eileen said of her first time at Whittle the Wood. "Everything's been just great."

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