Whittle the Wood winds down with carving winners, Jefferson Starship concert

Andy Bockelman
The crowd settles in for the free concert by Jefferson Starship Saturday at Whittle the Wood Rendezvous at Loudy-Simpson Park. The 16th annual event announced the winners of the carving competition, as well as featuring a variety of food and activities, with live music during the closing day by both Jefferson Starship and Denver's Steve Thomas Band.
Andy Bockelman

16th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous results

• First place: Robert Waits, of Diamond Springs, California: “Big Hooters”

• Second place: Scott Hook, of Laurel, Montana: “Domain”

• Third place: Jim Valentine, of Midvale, Utah: “Goldilocks Was Here”

• People’s Choice: “Big Hooters”

• Carvers’ Choice: “Domain”

As is always the case with Craig’s favorite yearly gathering, the noise level only grew in its last day in Loudy-Simpson Park, as musical guests closed the event by replacing the sounds of chainsaws with something out of this world.

16th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous results

• First place: Robert Waits, of Diamond Springs, California: “Big Hooters”

• Second place: Scott Hook, of Laurel, Montana: “Domain”

• Third place: Jim Valentine, of Midvale, Utah: “Goldilocks Was Here”

• People’s Choice: “Big Hooters”

• Carvers’ Choice: “Domain”

The intergalactic ensemble of Jefferson Starship dropped by to provide a memorable performance Saturday evening, concluding the 16th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.

The chainsaw carving competition gave out its awards to one well-known face and a couple newbies. Robert Waits, of Diamond Springs, California, took the $1,000 first place for his carving of an owl family, titled “Big Hooters.”

Waits also picked up People’s Choice for the nature artwork with the slightly bawdy name demonstrating his irreverent sense of humor.

In accepting the honor, he said out of the many festivals in which he competes, Craig’s is “absolutely (his) favorite.”

First-time Whittle the Wood contestant Scott Hook, of Laurel, Montana, placed second and also earned Carvers’ Choice for “Domain,” a mountain lion protecting its rocky territory.

Jim Valentine, of Midvale, Utah, rounded out the awards in third with “Goldilocks Was Here,” a woodland cottage beneath a tree surrounded by several unique personalities, including one of the three bears associated with the title character.

The list of entries includes:

• Stump 1 — Jim Valentine, of Midvale, Utah, “Goldilocks Was Here”: a storybook cottage

• Stump 2 — Bongo Love, of Lafayette, “Lord of the Flies”: a dragonfly perched atop a cattail

• Stump 3 — Chad Stratton, of West Jordan, Utah, “Half a World Away”: stalks of bamboo, with a panda, a parrot, a toucan and a koala

• Stump 4 — Ted Scherer, of Galloway, Ohio, “Phone Home”: E.T. the extraterrestrial, with a spaceship

• Stump 5 — Damon Gorecki, of Roosevelt, Utah, “Wild Thing”: a bench designed to resemble faces, stones and antlers

• Stump 6 — David Mitchell, of Arvada, “Silver Surfer”: a silver monkey catching a wave on a surfboard

• Stump 7 — Matt Ounsworth, of Fort Collins, “Hop Spirit”: entities representing beer ingredients hops and barley, above a pitcher of water

• Stump 8 — Patrick Armstrong, of Pueblo West, incomplete

• Stump 9 — Jon Parker, of Manitou Springs, “Bear with Me”: a group of bears carving out the name of Whittle the Wood

• Stump 10 — Scott Hook, of Laurel, Montana, “Domain”: a mountain lion

• Stump 11 — Robert Waits, of Diamond Springs, California, “Big Hooters”: two parent owls watching over their nest

• Stump 12 — Nicole Braaten, of Loveland, “Unique Boutique”: a table with sections featuring numerous owls

Out of all the entries, Ronna Nelson preferred “Lord of the Flies,” even before she realized it had been put together by her favorite carver, Bongo Love.

“It’s actually kind of scary looking at it, it’s so detailed,” she said.

Love said he was inspired to make the intricate insect because of a suggestion by his daughter. The big bug and its wings were what he carved first from half the wood, and he later affixed it with some heavy-duty glue to the top of what would become the cattail.

The longtime fixture of Whittle the Wood said he was happy to be mixing it up with his fans again, as well as the rest of the contemporaries he’s gotten to know throughout the years.

“We’re all a family here,” Love said.

All the week’s guests of honor — with the exception of Patrick Armstrong, who had to leave after the first day of the event — participated in the Quick Carve to give everyone a show of their talent at high speed for, as Love puts it, “bragging rights” among themselves.

With plenty of booths throughout the park, kids’ activities like a bouncy house waterslide and an afternoon set by 1980s cover group Steve Thomas Band, the day was already packed before the big show.

Holly MacKinnon, of Steamboat Springs, said she had heard a lot about Whittle the Wood, but the headlining band was what caught her attention this year.

“I grew up listening to them with my dad,” she said.

MacKinnon and friends were among the thousands throughout Loudy-Simpson dancing and singing along to Jefferson Starship, which brought a decade-spanning repertoire with songs from multiple eras, beginning with the ferocity of “Ride the Tiger,” touching on favorites like “Find Your Way Back,” “Winds of Change” and “Jane,” ending with “Somebody to Love,” the signature song of earlier incarnation Jefferson Airplane —which celebrates its 50th anniversary in August — before the demand for an encore with Airplane’s “Volunteers,” prompting everyone to be part of the revolution that lives on from the 1960s.

Guitarist and founding member David Freiberg also took the opportunity to bring “Codeine” to the stage, the cover of Buffy St. Marie’s tune he first performed with Quicksilver Messenger Service in the ‘60s.

Freiberg said he was heartened by the variety of ages in the crowd, though wondering if many had been expecting “Sara,” “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” and “We Built This City,” which came about as a result of the ‘80s schism that created the entirely separate group Starship.

However, Feinberg wholeheartedly disagrees with the reputation that the latter pop song has gotten in recent years as one of the worst ever written.

“They’re good songs, written by good writers,” he said. “They’re just not our songs.”

Looking around the emptying Loudy-Simpson following the concert, Feinberg said he wished he had been able to view the carving action throughout the week.

As someone in the music industry for years and years, the noise from chainsaws isn’t something he considers invasive.

“I know loud,” he laughed.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

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