Hundreds prepare for woodcarvers ‘Roundup’

Woodcarver: This year’s Evart Roundup will take place from June 5 to June 8 at the Osceola County 4H-FFA Fairgrounds and is expected to attract hundreds of novice and experienced wood carvers from around the country. The event will feature a variety of free workshops for all ages and skill levels. (File photo)
Woodcarver: This year’s Evart Roundup will take place from June 5 to June 8 at the Osceola County 4H-FFA Fairgrounds and is expected to attract hundreds of novice and experienced wood carvers from around the country. The event will feature a variety of free workshops for all ages and skill levels. (File photo)

EVART — Hundreds of craftsmen and women are expected to gather in Evart during the first week of June to unite in their love of wood carving.

The Evart Roundup is an event geared toward all things wood carving and provides a multitude of informational workshops for attendees who want to grow in the craft, meet fellow carvers and gather at one of the largest such craft roundups in the country. The event, which was established by the Chief Osceola Woodcarvers, began in Mancelona, moved to Cadillac and has settled in Evart.

In its 15th year, the Evart Roundup is under the leadership of Floyd Rhadigan, who has been carving wood for 43 years.

“It’s somewhat daunting, but rather than see it go down the tube because no one could take it on, I stepped up,” said Rhadigan.

Sandy Holder, one of the original organizers, said the roundup in Osceola County became the catalyst for eight other roundup events around the country.

“By organizing the event, we did something that people wanted and something that was needed,” said Holder, who has been carving miniature carousel horses for 20 years. “The gathering turned out bigger than we ever thought it would be, and we feel like we really accomplished a neat thing.”

She said health concerns of other original founders became the deciding factor to hand over leadership of the event.

“We thought it would be better if we passed it on,” Holder added. “We are thankful and grateful for Floyd and his willingness to keep it going.”

This year, the event will take place from June 5 to June 8 at the Osceola County 4H-FFA Fairgrounds.

Rhadigan said he expects about 700 wood carvers from across the country appear to learn additional skills, help teach others and share ideas. Sixty instructors, including two from outside of Michigan who have not been present in the past, will help host almost 70 workshops. The sessions are open at all times for carvers to come and go.

In Michigan alone, 48 wood carving clubs exist and meet on a regular basis.

“It’s very relaxing and, for a lot of retired people, it’s something to get into that does not cost a lot of money,” he added.

This year, chip carving, wood burning, power carving, painting, tool sharpening and learning how to carve faces, animals, ornaments and more will be featured throughout the event.

Rhadigan said the craft, though enjoyed by many, is slowly dying, as younger generations gravitate toward other forms of entertainment that provide immediate results.

“It does take patience,” he said. “You’re not going to have instant gratification.”

The workshops are free, but there is a moderate cost for workshop supplies. Breakfasts and lunches during the roundup are provided by the Evart Lions Club, and a pot luck and hot dog roast also will be hosted.

Other activities include an ice cream social, a carver’s swap and an informal carver’s music jam.

For more information, visit www.evartroundup.com.