Annual Woodcarvers Roundup draws visitors from across the country

EVART — Wood chips flew and sawdust swirled through the air as strangers and friends alike gathered at the Osceola County Fairgrounds for the 19th annual Woodcarvers Roundup.

This four-day woodcarving extravaganza filled the fairgrounds with carving enthusiasts from every corner of the country and a few even from outside the U.S. The event hosts various vendors and workshops for both veterans and newcomers to the craft to try their hand at different carving projects, from making beautifully detailed crosses to gemstone-adorned wooden rings.

One group of friends eager to share their knowledge and love for woodcarving with attendees of the fair were members of the Sculptors and Woodcarvers Guild, a workshop operating within the Art Gallery of Burlington in Ontario, Canada. Ken Maitland, a woodcarver with the group, explained members have been attending the event for approximately 10 years and try to bring a new project for people to learn and try each year. This year, they focused their attention on smoothing small blocks of wood into nearly perfect rings topped with colorful costume jewelry gems.

“We come down as a group and just have a lot of fun,” said Bob Pring, also of the Sculptors and Woodcarvers Guild. “And we have been received extremely well by everybody.”

Another well-known staple among the woodcarvers in attendance was Molly Hanna, affectionately called Miss Molly by those who know her from previous Woodcarvers Roundups or from her experience teaching carving across the country.

Hanna said she has been teaching woodcarving nationally for at least 12 years and specifically focuses on teaching the craft to children. At the event in the past she has spent the bulk of her time showing kids and their parents how to make “gnome homes” or small, whimsical figurines.

Although Hanna explained this will be her last year attending the event due to arthritis in her hands and the unfortunate result of no longer being able to practice her craft, she said it has always been about teaching children and passing the art form down to them.

“I would say it keeps me happy, but it’s really about keeping them happy,” she said.

For many of the woodcarvers in attendance, the practice of passing along their love for carving seemed to be a great motivator. Anita Harrand, who has been carving since 2005, explained she also teaches carving to young people in her local 4-H and art gallery in the thumb region of Michigan.

“I like the idea of people doing things with their hands and passing things down,” Harrand said, adding the event is not only fun for people with experience, but is also a good opportunity for people to be introduced to carving and find out what they enjoy most.

For the woodcarvers in attendance, this annual event is an opportunity to come together and share their detailed art with as many people as possible.

“The whole idea of this is to perpetuate the art form,” Harrand said. “After a while it really starts to feel like family.”