EVART — New friends and old gathered together at the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds in Evart to unite surrounded by wood chips, sawdust and carving tools.

From June 3 through June 6, the annual Evart Roundup hosted nearly 600 carvers of all ages, backgrounds and experiences. Each attendee worked on a new or continuing carving or burning project, some of which they had never before attempted.

"The atmosphere here is happy," said event organizer Floyd Rhadigan in the midst of a group of carvers. "Everyone has found their niche and has been enjoying the heck out of it."

Art Wierenga, a resident of the Jackson area, was one of many attendees carving animal figurines. However, a certain badge on his shirt carved to look like a drop of blood made him unique among the others.

Wierenga sported the "Owie" pin, which is a lighthearted award given to the person first to draw blood while carving at the event, though Rhadigan joked not all cuts are reported.

"The knife wanted to carve something softer than wood," Wierenga said with a laugh, showing his bandaged palm. "I sliced myself pretty good."

While worked on carving a figure of a dog, he said he has been carving for about three or four years.

"We have a critter at home and I thought my wife would like to have this," Wierenga added, chipping away slivers of wood to define the dog's fur. "Carving is something you can do when there's snow on the ground and when it's cold outside."

This is the third year he and his wife, Norma, have attended the roundup.

"It's convenient, it's fun and you learn stuff," he added. "You meet lots of nice people and they take care of you when you get an owie."

Besides animals, carvers and burners created flowers, scenic pictures, bird houses, fantasy creatures, lifelike human faces, walking canes, birds and fish, crosses and more.

Attendees who had interests besides carving also were able to explore new crafts, including jewelry making and card stitching.

Cheryl, Abby and Emily Withrow from Gladwin took the time to participate in both activities while Brad Withrow enjoyed carving. This year is the family's first time attending the roundup.

"I think it's a really neat event," Cheryl said. "We're amazed by how many women are carving alongside the men."

The three used patterns and brightly colored thread to create flowers on cards with help from instructor Ilene Grusendorf. All said despite not being carvers they were appreciative of the alternative projects available during the four-day event.

"I think it's fun," Emily said while poking a needle through the front of a card. "I'd like to come back."

The Withrow women were a few of many ladies expanding their skills at the roundup. Swartz Creek resident Deanna Anderson and Sherry Burgon of Salt Lake City sat together while wielding tools and chipping away at their creations.

"I look forward to this every year. I really like it," Anderson said.

Anderson has been involved in the roundup for about 10 years, previously coming with her husband. Now, since her husband has passed, she travels to Evart with a friend. This year she carved a gnome house out of a large piece of bark.

"I came this weekend specifically because of this event," said Burgon, who typically enjoys wood burning. "My father lives in Riverview and I grew up there, but now I live in Salt Lake City. I scheduled my vacation to visit him now so I could attend the roundup. I had so much fun last year I had to come back. It's fun to watch a block of wood or a piece of bark turn into something over time."

The two were pleased to help represent women carvers, adding they encourage more women to try the art form.