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Chainsaw carvers crank up creativity in Ronan

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RONAN — Over the weekend, rainy weather couldn’t muffle the sounds of blaring, buzzing chainsaws during Ronan’s Mission Valley Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous held at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Ronan.

“We have had people standing out here watching in the rain holding umbrellas,” said Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous organizer Ronna Walchuk. “The community really, really came to town for this. It is awesome.”

With sawdust flying all about, onlookers gathered during the four-day extravaganza to watch nine chainsaw wielding sculptors from around the world transform ordinary chunks of pine log into mesmerizing works of art.

A soaring eagle started to form in one log. The face of a wild mountain man was in another, and a growling grizzly bear was also included. Another sculpture was of a sasquatch and a feeding hummingbird.

On Thursday, each carver was given a 10-foot log and asked to carve a figure of their choice that would be auctioned off to the public on Sunday, with proceeds being split between the artist and the chamber of commerce. 

Each carver also brought completed projects for sale to show off their work, and were also tasked with creating quick carve sculptures, which were then auctioned off to the highest bidder at the end of each day.

Ninety percent of the work is done with a chainsaw, while sanders and grinders help carvers put the finishing touches on their projects.

Longtime carver and Woods Bay resident Todd Coats represented the Mission Valley among the cast of well-traveled carvers. Coats has a studio along U.S. Highway 35 where his wood carvings continually cause traffic jams. For his four-day major project, Coats worked diligently on his highly detailed sculpture of a soaring bald eagle.

Also, from Montana were father and son duo from Libby, Ron and Jeff Adamson, 20-year carving veteran Les Smith from Eureka, and Julie Zimmerman from the Bitterroot Valley.

Professional carver Adrian Bois, who is from Villa Elisa, Argentina, added an international flavor to the festivities.

Rounding out this year’s group of carvers were Hoquiam, Washington, home builder Anthony Robinson, Jacob Lucas from Bonney Lake, Washington, and Thor From Earth who currently resides in Salkum, Washington.

Along with the chainsaw carvers, there were food vendors, a kettle corn stand, and several local craft and wares vendors set up as well.

What also makes this an interesting event is that attendees can watch the sculpture, with a little coaxing from the carver’s chainsaw, transform from a plain old chunk of pine log into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, then bid on it for a chance to take the local creation home.

“We provide them with all the local logs, so all the logs are from the Mission Valley,” Walchuk said. “So, there’s that kind of local connection, as well.”


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