Oct 22, 2023

Annual Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous kicks off in Ronan

RONAN — Ronan is rumbling with the sounds of chainsaws because the annual Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous kicked off on Thursday at the Ronan Event Center.

"We call it the carving family, so we’re definitely a tight-knit group," said carver Pauline Cormier who is from Columbus, Montana.

Carvers came from all over the U.S. and the world to partake in the annual Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous.

They have 3½ days to create a giant wooden piece of their choice.

During the carving, event attendees can peruse and purchase pieces the artists have on display.

"My favorite thing is coming here and looking for Bigfoot. My mom when she was young, she saw some Bigfoots, you know, and I believe in that so you know that's why I say I want a bigfoot to honor her.," stated Steven Small Salmon, who is a regular at the event.

He loves that the artists honor the local animals with their pieces and appreciates the unique styles of the artists who each have their own origin story with carving.

Small Salmon continued further saying that by using trees to create images of animals, carvers are honoring and highlighting the connected relationship between nature and animals.

"It's been over 20 years. I was self-taught and so I couldn't afford one of those bears from way back when they started coming out and just picked up a chainsaw and taught my taught myself how to carve," stated Cormier.

"I got into it just a few years ago. We had a big windstorm go through and lost a bunch of trees and we filled up our woodshed with firewood and had so much wood left over I just started picking them up and carving bear heads out of them and just fell in love with it," said Toni Whitney who is a carver from Bigfork.

"I had to go to work in a lumber mill of course in Libby and I was a non-smoker and back in those days the break room turned blue so I stayed out of there and I started carving on pieces of wood and I taught myself to carve and the people started to buy 'em," shared event creator Ron Adamson.

Adamson's wood carving took him into a unique career of sculpture making of all sorts. He made a statue of a man with a guitar for Winslow, Arizona, which is the town on Route 66 featured in The Eagles' hit song 'Take it Easy'.

"When the internet was fairly new, I was one of the first artists in North America to have a webpage. And some people in Winslow, Arizona were looking for somebody to submit a proposal about doing a statue from The Eagles' song 'Take it Easy'," said Adamson.

"And I was at a show in Bishop, California and I called my wife and she said, 'you're not going to believe this but you know I checked the email and we got an email from Winslow, Arizona and they want to know if you'd be interested in submitting a proposal to do a statue for them.' And I said 'holy cow! I'm a woodcarver but yea'!" Adamson continued.

"And so, I said 'did you answer?' and she said 'yeah.' She said 'I told them I'm interested, let me know what you need, thank you, and take it easy!'. I think that left an impression on them. That became a major part of my life and now that statue has a life of its own. If you've ever been to Winslow, I can't count how many people jump out and get their picture taken. Sometimes it's 50 people at once and they'll sing the whole song 'Take it Easy'," Adamson detailed.

It may have always been in the cards for Adamson to make that exact statue. 10 years after making the piece for Winslow, he found a very old photograph of his grandfather along Route 66 in a similar position to his statue.

"Now this black and white photograph which is nearly 100 years old I found it after my mother died. My mother grew up in Norway and she had a box of black and white photographs of my great aunts and uncles, my mom's cousins, and my relatives in Norway. I was looking at them and a lot of them I couldn't figure out who they were. I found this one photograph. I looked at it and it had Route 66 on it and a guy's holding a guitar. It was a smaller picture so I put it on my scanner and got it big; it was my grandfather and he's holding the guitar in almost the same position as I had made that statue ten years earlier than I had found this picture," he excitedly explained.

It's not only life-changing to make these pieces but life-affirming. The carvers, making art they’re passionate about with the buzz of the saw in the background is their form of meditation.

"I call it my mental yoga time. So, I can just not have to worry about anything else outside my little bubble and that piece of wood."

As the rendezvous increases in popularity, more and more people come to watch the wood chips fly.

"It's turned into like a main event here in the Mission Valley," stated Adamson.

The carving continues through Sunday, June 11, 2023, when the competition winners will be announced.