Following the success of last year’s Kootenai Country Montana Chainsaw Carving Championship, Libby will play host to both the championship and a separate chainsaw carving demonstration event this weekend.
While the second annual contest is going on downtown in Libby on Mineral Avenue, there will be more going on the south side of Highway 2 just a few blocks east of Mineral near the Kootenai Valley Credit Union.
Ron Adamson, a Libby artist who first experimented with chainsaw carving in the 1980s and competed in last year’s inaugural championship, said that he had floated the idea of a chainsaw event in Libby for several years before Paul Bunn, owner of the Venture Inn and founder of Kootenai Country Montana, took up the idea and turned it into an actual event.
Adamson has said he was originally slated to be the championship’s organizer until he and Kootenai Country Montana had a disagreement over the marketing of the event. Adamson was eventually asked to come back as a competitor, and said yes.
In planning for this year’s event, Adamson said he and Kootenai Country Montana had additional disagreements that resulted in his being told he would not be allowed to carve in this year’s competition.
Bunn declined to comment.
After some consideration, Adamson decided to have a separate but complementary event to coincide with the championship. Despite the disagreement, he said he wants people to go to the KCM Chainsaw Carving Championship and doesn’t want to detract from it.
This year, the three-day competition and auctions will run Friday through Sunday, Sept. 21-23.
Things kick off 7 a.m. Friday, when 20 competitors from all over the U.S. and the world will start carving. Except for a lunch break each day from noon to 1 p.m., carving will go until 5:30 p.m. each day except Sunday, when judging begins at 1 p.m.
Each day there will be a quick carve at 10:30 a.m., during which artists will spend 90 minutes creating a smaller piece while audiences watch. The pieces will be auctioned on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The final auction and awards will be Sunday at 2 p.m.
The main event will have drinks and food available from vendors, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, there will be a “Dancin’ in the Dust” dance in the parking lot at VFW Post No. 1548.
Sharing the love
Ron Adamson has dubbed his event “The Libby Chainsaw Event,” but it won’t be a competition, he said.
Adamson said he wanted to avoid things such as giving awards like a “people’s choice,” which can easily be offset by a single large group coming through and taking a liking to a particular artist.
In fact, though pieces created at the event will be auctioned off Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., there will be no awards at the event.
“It’s pretty laid back, really, as far as what they want to do and how they want to do it,” Adamson said. “I opted to not have the awards so that everyone can just be comfortable in doing what they’re doing.”
Carving will start at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, but the public is welcome to come out at 7:30 a.m. and have breakfast with and meet the artists.
The quick carve demonstrations will start at 11:15 a.m. all four days.
Adamson also added an educational element to his event. At 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, there will be seminars, during which artists talk about their craft.
The first will be presented by local Lincoln County artist Gary Jewell, who will talk about chain sharpening and maintaining the bar.
Adamson said that there is a lot of difference between how a chainsaw for carving is maintained and how one for just cutting wood is maintained. For some of the precise cutting, even the chainsaw bar’s size and shape is different.
On Saturday, Adamson will talk at 2 p.m. about the basics of chainsaw carving and setting up to carve a human face.
Altogether, Adamson said he expect to have up to six carvers for his event.