Details distinguish winners for 20th annual Whittle the Wood |

Details distinguish winners for 20th annual Whittle the Wood

When in doubt, stick to the animal kingdom, blockbuster movies and children’s literature.

The winners of the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous were named Saturday evening to conclude the yearly festival that sees tree stumps become works of art in a matter of four days.

Taking the top honor for the second straight year was Montrose’s Ken Braun, who collected a grand prize of $1,000 for his work “Blue,” a depiction of the velociraptor of the same name from “Jurassic World.”

Ken Braun triumphantly rides atop Blue the velociraptor after winning first place in the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. Braun also won People’s Choice and tied for Artist’s Choice.
Andy Bockelman

Braun said he chose the figure about a week ago after watching the movie, seeing the reptilian antihero as terrifying yet likable.

“I thought, man, that’s a character everyone can relate to,” he said.

The beloved dinosaur not only won Braun the top honor — which he took last year for a carving of “Pirates of the Caribbean” villain Davy Jones — but also People’s Choice and a tie for Artist’s Choice.

The dozen carvers were split on the latter award, which also went to Robert Waits for his brightly colored carving of Dr. Seuss’s ecological curmudgeon, The Lorax.

Robert Waits The Lorax as co-recipient of Artist’s Choice in the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman
20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous carvings

Stump 1 — Nate Hall — “Mountain Migraine”; Rams butting heads

Stump 2 — Matt Ounsworth — “20 for 20”; Animal totem (Second place)

Stump 3 — Jim Valentine — “Buckshot Bill”; Cowboy

Stump 4 — Damon Gorecki — “Wood Haven”; Bench

Stump 5 — Justine Park — “Home of the Brave”; Skull with feathered headdress

Stump 6 — Joe Srholez — “Xing Yun (Lucky)”; Dragon

Stump 7 — Chad Stratton — “Long Ago”; Wooly mammoth

Stump 8 — Bongo Love — “The Sweet Life”; Hummingbirds (Third place)

Stump 9 — Robert Lyon — “Horse of Course”; Horse

Stump 10 — Robert Waits —  The Lorax”; The Lorax (Artist’s Choice)

Stump 11 — Fernando Dulnuan — “The Lion of Judah”; Angel with lion and lamb

Stump 12 — Ken Braun — “Blue”; Velociraptor (First place, People’s Choice, Artist’s Choice)

Taking second place and $750 was Fort Collins’ Matt Ounsworth and “20 for 20.” Ounsworth, who won in 2017 for an animal totem, went a similar route with a bear, a butterfly, salmon, otters, owls, turtles, and more to celebrate the festival’s two decades.

Matt Ounsworth relaxes with a drink while waiting to hear the results for the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. Ounsworth won second place for his animal totem, “20 for 20.”
Andy Bockelman

Whittle the Wood mainstay Bongo Love, from Lafayette by way of Zimbabwe, rounded out the top placement with “The Sweet Life,” showing two hummingbirds feasting on nectar.

Bongo Love peeks between the flowers and hummingbirds of “The Sweet Life,” the winner of third place in the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.

With a panel of five judges determining each entries’ artistic merits, such as theme and use of space, it was a tough call to pick a winner, said first-year judge Melanie Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick refused to divulge how she voted but hinted that attention to detail was what influenced her most.

“I was pretty open as far as style. The velociraptor having skin texture detail on it and (Jim Valentine’s) cowboy having cuticles on it, that was what was important to me, and you could see on all sides the level of detail they put into it,” she said.

She added that even the eight carvings that didn’t take an award each had a sense of artistry that fit the area.

“All the artwork today seems super-authentic to Craig and to fit really well for our region. Everything seems to have the character of Northwest Colorado, so I totally dig it,” she said.

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