Carvers gather for Evart Roundup to learn, reunite

EVART — Fellowship and fun revolving around the art of wood working took place during this year's Evart Roundup, which attracted wood carvers and burners from across the country.

More than 300 people gathered at the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds this year, which was on target for the goal, according to master carver and event organizer Floyd Rhadigan.

"The response is really good this year," he said. "People have been more than helpful to volunteer and its been fun."

Men, women and children of all ages took park in the roundup and learned a number of techniques to enhance and expand their abilities. Throughout the event, carvings and burnings of animals, fantasy creatures, walking sticks, landscapes, recognizable human figures, plant life and symbols were perfected by skilled hands and worn tools. Many even took the extra step to hand paint or stain their creations.

Gary Arens of DeWitt was sharpening his skills with instructor Dayle Lewis of Richmond, Ind. Arens took Thursday to create a chainsaw carving of a rabbit from an ash tree log, which stood about 4 feet tall. He's been a carver for about 20 years, but only using chainsaws for the last six.

"Good things take time," Arens said with a laugh. "What can be better than bringing something back to life after it's been dead?"

Lewis, who also instructed other workshops during the roundup, has been carving for about 16 years — first hand carving and moving his way up to using chainsaws.

"I fell in love with it," he said. "With a chainsaw, wood chips fly like crazy and you can make your basic shape really quickly."

Besides chainsaw carving, hand carving, wood burning and bark carving workshops were featured. Vendors lined the buildings selling roughouts, tools, finished creations, burners, specialty paints, instruction books and more. Instructors taught novice and veteran carvers techniques for various projects. An ice cream social, carver’s swap and an informal carver’s music jam also took place during the four-day event.

Rhadigan enjoyed assisting carvers chip away at figurines while sitting at a table full of familiar faces.

"I've been carving with some of these people for 16 years," he said. "It's like having a large family and we all have something in common through our art and friendship. It's a mix that all works together."