Chainsaw carve returns to Scandia

Artists from all over the northeast are carving out a niche at the ninth annual Scandia Chainsaw Carve.

A collaboration between Red Oak Campground and Scandia Volunteer Fire Department, the two-day event drew about 1,000 people last year to browse, buy carvings, enjoy the food and bid in the auctions.

Most of the carvers are on a “tour,” spending a week here and then moving on to a week somewhere else, like the large carve event in Addison, Pa., or the Ridgway Rendezvous which draws hundreds of carvers from all over the world.

Steve and Joanne Green are the new owners of Red Oak Campground. He said, “This is a new experience for us. I am excited about everything that’s going on. I don’t think we could have found a better campground (to buy), and we looked around for three years.”

Jack Riese and his carving partner Pat Holbert, of Dalton, Ohio, have been participating in carving events for 12 years and have come to the Scandia Carve every year except the first.

Riese said, “We’ve been together 12 years. He (Holbert) was a hand carver, and I carved totem poles for 40 years. I still do a few, but we now we carve just about anything.”

He added, “We (the carvers) are kind of like a clan. We see each other at many different places.”

To preserve the artworks, Riese recommends sealing the wood, then coating it with polyurethane. When properly cared for on an annual basis, he said they should last for 20 or 25 years. “They’ll outlast me,” he added.

As far as the weather, Riese remembers a prior year in Scandia where hundreds of people were watching the auction when the skies opened up and poured. He recalled, “No one left. Everyone stood in the rain for the rest of the auction.”

For many carvers, bears are a common theme, as are eagles. Some chose Native Americans for their subject, and some are more free form, like Chris DeStefano of Ridgway.

In addition to typical subjects, DeStefano carves his bowls and vessels with a chainsaw.

“I carved my first vessel two years ago,” he said. “The shapes are something you cannot get with a lathe, and they require hours of hand sanding. A chair (that he is displaying) took me four years to complete. I started with a piece of spalted sugar maple from a tree that was 200 years old. I gave up on it for while, then came back to it.”

Asked about it’s value, he said he wouldn’t take any less than $1,500.

Bob Dieterle, of Medina, N.Y., has a penchant for colorful tall tales, and he likes to be called ‘Buzz Saw Bob’.

Dieterle said he used to cut firewood with his father. “One day my dad left for a while, and instead of cutting more firewood, I carved a bear,” he said. “When he came back, he chewed my butt. We ended up putting the bear in front of a gas station, and it sold for more than we made from firewood. That was the end of that.”

He also claimed that he had quit his job as a rocket scientist for NASA to carve wood.

On Friday, things kick off at 10 a.m. There will be a quick carving demonstration at 5 p.m. by Sarah Butler and the doors close at 6 p.m. Both Friday and Saturday will feature craft and food vendors, bake sales, carving sales, demonstrations.

On Saturday the hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a quick carving demonstrations by Karl Becker at 10 a.m., another at 1 p.m. by Rick Latson. At 11 a.m. the Harley Davidson group will serve hamburgers and hot dogs. Also at 11 the Russell VFD will hold a chicken BBQ. A Chinese Auction drawing will begin at 1:30 p.m. and the annual auction of chainsaw carvings will start at 2 p.m. Saturday.