This July 4th weekend, fireworks won’t be the only loud noises associated with displays meant to capture the public’s attention and imagination.
Ron Adamson’s The Libby Chainsaw Event will not just have chainsaw carvers from all over, but also live music, vendors and activities including a celebration of Smokey Bear’s 75th anniversary and an adoption walk featuring pets from Kootenai Pets for Life.
It will all begin with a float in the Troy Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade. Though organizers are still working out the details for the float, they plan to feature artwork by the event’s carvers.
After the parade, things will pick up at the parking lot area at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Louisiana Avenue.
The Libby Chainsaw Event may have come a long way from the show Adamson threw together in about two weeks last September, which was held in a parking lot near the Kootenai Valley Credit Union.
However, Adamson has said he wants the tone to remain similar, even as the event has grown.
He has had interest from as far as Russia, but Adamson said he sees the event as primarily about local people and local artists.
And the show has artists as judges as well: local artists Todd Berget, Ivan Hagen and Christy Elwood.
Berget said that, as an artist growing up in Libby a few years behind Hagen, it’s a thrill to work with someone whose work he admired.
They agreed that they were impressed with the work they have seen from chainsaw carvers.
Berget said that this kind of event goes “hand-in-hand” with the area’s logging heritage. “We should have been doing this 30 years ago.”
Adamson said he had worked for several years to try to get people interested in a chainsaw carving show locally, he said. It wasn’t until after he entered one of his own chainsaw carvings in a Libby Chamber of Commerce auction that people began to understand what he was talking about.
Now after multiple years of chainsaw carving events — including the separate Kootenai County Montana event that Adamson is not associated with — Adamson said he feels there is opportunity to grow the event.
It’s also good to have a chance to show off local talent from the area, Berget said.
“Libby has given birth to a lot of really talented people,” Hagen said.
Adamson pointed out how supportive the local community has been to the artists who got their start here, including himself.
“For me, it was a way to pay back Libby, by bringing a chainsaw event here,” Adamson said.
While Gary Armstrong is working out all the logistics — from permits and ordinances to making everything fit in the planned location and times.
Armstrong said that he was first drawn in last year by the work he saw at Adamson’s event.
Coming from a more urban art background, he said he didn’t expect much out of chainsaw carving until he saw what it could look like.
“I was knocked over by it,” Armstrong said. “It’s absolutely amazing work. That’s what drew me into getting involved.”
John Harrison and Patty Kramer have been figuring out the entertainment and vendors.
Harrison became involved near the end of last year’s show, providing music and a public address system. He said he stepped in to help out when Adamson needed someone, but that he enjoyed participating in a support role.
“Looking at the beautiful way these guys carve the wood, it was amazing,” he said. “And if you just sit and watch them for a little bit, it just draws you.”
So, Harrison and Kramer approached Adamson about coming back this year, and helping to make it even more of a success.
“It was something we felt we’d like to get involved in, because it’s an art that should be here,” he said.
“We’re Libby Loggers,” Kramer added.
On Friday night, Area 56 will play a live concert, and on Saturday there will be music and karaoke, Harrison said.
At this point, they have four food vendors scheduled, with around 20 additional vendors selling items such as handmade goods, from food items to artwork.
“Next year I hope to have more,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the adoption walk is a way they can help the community while also drawing more people to the event.
Kootenai Pets for Life will be at the event on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There will also be vendors such as groomers.
On Saturday, they will have the adoption walk, when pets up for adoption will be brought out and shown off. Petsmart, which has partnered with Kootenai Pets for Life, will have giveaways for people who adopt pets.
The entire event will run from Thursday after the Troy parade to Sunday, with a variety of activities and seminars by artists and others scheduled, and more being discussed.
Harrison said that everyone involved in the event is a volunteer, and more volunteers are always welcome.
“There’s many ways to volunteer and show support,” said Rebecca Dupre, who volunteers by doing other promotional work for the event. That can be just about anything, from putting up a poster, donating a few dollars, or just coming down and helping to sweep up sawdust.