A carving team stands by the new Seldovia sign they created using chainsaws.   -Photo by Jenny Chissus

A carving team stands by the new Seldovia sign they created using chainsaws. -Photo by Jenny Chissus

Chips to fly this weekend in chainsaw competition

This is the eighth year Seldovia will be host for a fabulous display of art in motion, the annual Chainsaw Carving Competition. In past years, it has taken place during Memorial Day weekend. This year it happens today through Sunday, Labor Day weekend, when six carving teams from Palmer, Sterling, Kenai, Anchorage, Anchor Point and Chetwynd, Canada, arrive in Seldovia to begin three days of carving. 

The master carvers for 2013 are Ben Firth, Jimmy Kitchens, Derrick Stanton, Randy Gauthier, Rob Younkins and Scott Hanson. The carvers will draw for the logs today. From 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sunday, the chainsaws will come alive, releasing incredible masterpieces from the unassuming local spruce.

Seldovia has more than 30 carvings that may be viewed all year long, including a swimming mermaid plucking a pearl from a clam shell, a fisherman, whales, eagles dueling over a salmon, a dragon and mermaid, a ram, a hermit crab, otters, a prospector, a pirate, a sea siren, the Cat in the Hat and many carvings that were interactive like eagle and bear benches, riding salmon, swimming fish and a sea lion. 

Each year, spectators are completely in awe of the transformation of these logs right in front of their eyes. It is a complete delight to see the process of art in motion, and each year has outdone the previous.

Another fun aspect of the competition will be the “quick carves.” For an hour and a half on Sunday, each carver is given a smaller log to create something in that short period of time. These are then offered as gifts to the top sponsors of the event. These pieces range from wall hangings to halibut chairs, jumping salmon, hugging bears and swimming otters. This is a great event, where the crowd gathers to witness the speed with which carvers create a piece of art in an hour and a half. 

Each carver also may bring previously carved art with him or her to sell during the competition. Many pieces are brought to Seldovia and sold on the spot to spectators. From small wall hangings to large bear carvings, swings and stools, folks get the opportunity to see other types of work the carvers create besides the gorgeous masterpiece carvings and are able to take something home to remember the event.

We have enjoyed seven years of carving delight in the heart of Seldovia.

The carving competition takes place right on Dock Street and Main, across from the ferry terminal facing gorgeous Seldovia Bay. The three-day carvings, referred to lovingly by the artists as “masterpieces,” are donated by the carvers to the Seldovia Chamber of Commerce to be placed around town at businesses where locals and tourists alike can enjoy them for years to come. There are more than 35 carvings already about town. With this year’s additions, we will have more than 40 gorgeous pieces of art on display. This is a great excuse to visit Seldovia, come and see and participate in an event that leaves a lasting mark on our community by the sea.

This year’s first place winner will receive a check for $3,000, second place will get $2,000 and the third place winner will receive $1,000. There also will be a Carver’s Choice Award and the People’s Choice Award. 

Many great sponsors have made this event possible. This year’s top sponsors include BP, Mike’s Welding, Seldovia Fishing Adventures, Seldovia Fuel & Lube and the Seldovia Bay Ferry.

An addition to this year’s event happens Sunday after the quick carve and during the People’s Choice voting: a community potluck barbecue followed by the awards ceremony. Bring your chips, potato salad and watermelon and enjoy a chance to meet and eat lunch with the carvers.

This isn’t the only reason to come to Seldovia over Labor Day weekend. The Seldovia Arts Council is hosting the Guitars Masters concert on Saturday.

A schedule of activities can be found online at seldovia.com/to-do/events/labor-day-weekend-events/craft-invitational-chainsaw-carving-competition/ 

Visit Seldovia.com for photos and more information about our community by the sea, and visit Facebook at facebook.com/SeldoviaChainsawCarvingCompetition.

Among the many hats Jenny Chissus wears in Seldovia is this year’s Seldovia Chainsaw Carving Committee Chairperson.

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