Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ridgway Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous

The annual Ridgway Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous has started and will be in full swing as the week goes on. Since I can't walk yet, I sent my hubby and daughter to get a cheesesteaks from one of the food booths and take a few photos, so I can see the incredible work. My surgeon doesn't want me putting any weight on the left leg until tomorrow and even then it will be baby steps only.

I do hope to at least get down there one day. Probably Friday because everyone will be working, but the massive crowds that will attend the annual carving auction won't be here until Saturday. There are literally thousands of people who attend, hoping to pick up a piece of original extreme art. Chainsaw carving has increased in popularity since the Boni brothers started this event over a decade ago. The first year it was open to the public, less than a handful of carvers attended. Now there are hundreds that attend and create such beauty out of a log. If you have never seen this unique artistry, you are truly missing out on a treat of a lifetime. It kills me not to be there every day. I've asked hundreds of the carvers how they create the image out of a log. They explain that they look at the log and see the finished piece just waiting to come out. We have several small pieces. My daughter bought the cutest mouse a few years ago and I bought an incredible walking stick that was hand carved by a master artist from down near Gettysburg. I take it on all our walking trips. I tend to stumble when walking, so the staff works wonders.

I've met and interviewed carvers from around the USA and the world. My favorite are the Germans because I speak broken German, so interviews with them are half German and half English. It somehow works! They are always surprised to be greeted in their own language in this tiny town. They should have learned by now, if you want to learn from the masters in painting, go to Paris, if you want to learn from the masters in the extreme art of chainsaw carving, you go to Ridgway. A champion carver from England told me that several years ago and I can never forget it. Everyone in that world has heard of our town thanks to the Boni family. With less than 5,000 people living here in the middle of the Allegheny Forest, that is staying something. We've had international journalists cover the event. It was one of my favorite events to cover every year.

The carvers are all friendly. Even if they can't speak more than a few words of broken English, a smile is universal and there isn't a carver out there that doesn't smile while working for when they catch the eye of a visitor watching them. Their time has come. They finally have respect and their art is finally commanding the respect (and price tag) they so richly deserve.

The art and chance to talk to people from so many States and countries isn't the only draw. There are food booths! My family's personal favorite is the cheesesteak/hot sausage stand. I think I need to stop there tomorrow after my doctor's appointment. There are also the most sinfully delicious dessert ever created ~~ deep fried Oreo cookies! I just give up on my diet this week. It's impossible to go there, smell that delicious food cooking and not stop and buy it.

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