Steamboat Living: Quick Hits — Whittle the Wood gets sculpted into Craig life
What would you do if you were a parks director and you noticed your park’s cottonwoods were dying of disease?
If you’re Craig’s Dave Pike, you invite wood carvers to town and host a tree-carving contest — which is why you might see more and more carved stumps in town whenever you drive through Craig.
“We were just looking for a way to preserve the historic cottonwood trees deteriorating in Craig City Park,” Pike says about the June event’s 1999 beginnings. “We decided to leave the tree stumps for local artists to carve and our premier summer event was born.”
That simple idea 13 years ago now has blossomed into the Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, one of the country’s most unique art festivals. Every year, 12 artists and their chain saws are invited to town to turn trees into masterpieces in just four days with spectators on hand amid the shavings.
After having carvers work their magic on the park’s dying trees in the event’s first two years, organizers now cart logs in from elsewhere for artists, who choose their stumps in a tree-selection lottery. When the works are completed — ranging from eagles with wings spread to a Stop Global Warming bear with sunglasses and a melted ice cream cone — the public, artists and three independent judges choose People’s and Artists’ Choice awards as well as three Best of Show awards with cash prizes. The weekend also includes music, arts and crafts vendors, food and more.
And Craig gets the spoils of the sculptures, with the artwork now gracing parks, schools and courthouses across Craig, Hayden and even Dinosaur. “It’s a great time for both sculptors and spectators alike,” Pike says. “Plus, we get the bonus of artwork afterward.”
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Explore a mix of in-person and virtual events happening this weekend in Routt County.