Carving champ set for festival

Winterfest is carving out some space for extreme art this weekend.

According to an e-mail from Winterfest organizers Ed and Karen Atwood, “Ed also has a champion chainsaw artist coming who regularly carves at the Ridgway Rendezvous.”

That artist is Rick Boni.

Boni, an internationally recognized chainsaw carver, will be on hand from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday showcasing the art of carving.

“I’m really excited,” Boni said. “I haven’t carved publicly since late fall. So I’m really excited.”

Boni is co-founder of Appalachian Arts Studio in Ridgway and one of the founders of the annual Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous, which draws hundreds of carvers from around the world.

Additionally, he has been a figure in international carving for more than a decade.

After honing his craft, in 1995 Boni started accepting performance contracts through Masters of the Chainsaw, leading him to travel extensively performing demonstrations at NASCAR events, fairs, festivals and competitions along the way.

In 2001, Boni was invited to teach chainsaw carving in Toeie, Japan.

In 2001 and 2002 he was asked to judge an international carving competition and, in 2004, he went on to judge the English Open Chainsaw Competition in Sandringham, England.

Domestically, he judged the first Echo Cup in Louisville, Ky. and events in Westport, Wash.; Ocean Shores, Wash. and Addison.

In 2009 and 2010 he returned to teaching, after being invited to Norway to share the art.

“My last event was near the southside of Pittsburgh,” Boni said. “It was a kids event… It was really awesome, so I’m excited.”

Boni said he spent three days working in Pittsburgh, two performing exhibitions at area schools and a final day performing at a children’s day at a local park.

Boni has also appeared as a featured artist on Fox, CBS, public broadcasting and a number of international stations. He has appeared in print in both domestic and foreign magazines.

Boni’s work is on display around the world, appearing at diverse locations including American University, Hershey Gardens and in Washington D.C., New Jersey, Ohio, Scotland, England, Japan and Norway.

Boni, along with friends and family, are also responsible for putting together the annual Ridgway Rendezvous which is being held February 16 through 23 this year.

Boni’s in it for something else though.

“It’s not about money,” Boni explained. “It’s really that buzz you get from performing with the public.”