Two festivals, one passion

Back-to-back woodcarving events take place in Evart

Emily Nummer Special to the Herald Review

EVART —The annual Woodcarvers Roundup and Floyd Fest bring carvers from miles away to trade tips and sharpen their skills.

Numerous woodcarvers from across the United States and Canada travelled to the two back-to-back instructional events held at the Osceola County Fairgrounds in Evart, according to Floyd Rhadigan, the event director. The Roundup took place June 8 to 11, followed by Floyd Fest, which will continue through Friday, June 17.

Rhadigan spends time prior to both events coordinating instructors, advertising, obtaining liability insurance and getting out applications. At the event, he ensures everything is set up and students are registered, in addition to teaching his own classes.

“It’s a labor of love. I would hate to see this end because it really helps a lot of people. It gives them insight to something they can do for the rest of their lives,” he said.

While both events focus on teaching woodcarving skills, the Roundup and Floyd Fest are organized differently.

“The roundup is set up to where carvers come in and there’s no class fee. They just have to pay for materials,” said Rhadigan.

The Roundup had a final count of approximately 435 participants. The lack of instructional fee attracts lots of out-of-town people, Rhadigan claims.

“They come from all over. Canada, Florida, Wyoming, Texas,” he said.

The Roundup also utilized four buildings and approximately 50 instructors covering various carving methods. One instructor, Mart Lind, specializes in carving human figures and faces.

“You’ve got to know body proportions and facial proportions. Where things go. You’ve got to know where the eyes belong, you have to know where the mouth belongs and how to do the mouth, expressions and how the face alters with different expressions. It’s a process where you have to get things in the right place,” he explained.

This year was Lind’s fourth year teaching at the Roundup.

“I think it’s fun to work with people. It’s fun to see people make progress. I was a teacher professionally for 35 years,” he said. “I like teaching, and I like working with people, and I enjoy carving, so what a great combo that is.”

While the Roundup provides the opportunity to experiment with numerous carving styles, Floyd Fest has more focused instruction.

“This week, it’s more concentrated, because you’ll be with the same instructor all week. You get much more intense instruction,” Rhadigan said.

Despite their differences, there is often overlap in participants between the two programs, Rhadigan said.

“Most of the people who are here for Floyd Fest were here for the Roundup. And then we’ll get some people that can’t make it to the Roundup that come just to Floyd Fest,” he said.

The two events also hold similar nighttime programming, including ice cream socials, a carver trading event, and karaoke. Rhadigan also hopes to add a new nighttime activity to both events next year, like a carving competition or team carving project.

Barb Reibel, one of the event participants, said she enjoys carving for hours on end.

“I was in a car accident and thought I would never carve again,” she said. “I’m grateful I can still pick up a knife. The roundup and woodcarving are great because you get to go home with some great things. I wish more young people would get into carving.”

Benjamin Hewitt, 14, was among the event’s younger participants. Hewitt has been carving for around five years.

“My favorite thing about carving is it gives me the chance to relax,” he said. “You can sit back and enjoy time with your friends and family and just carve.”

Rhadigan encourages local people to check out Floyd Fest this week. Even if they are not carvers, they can attend a nighttime event to get a sense for the festival.

“People are welcome to come see what’s going on, and possibly they’d like to join us. Anybody can learn how to carve,” he said.

Lind and Rhadigan praised the effect carving can have on an individual.

“People should get a hobby, like carving or anything, and give it a shot, because it’s important to have something that gets you away from the drudgery of everyday life. People that have hobbies tend to be a little happier,” Lind said.

“It’s very enjoyable. It’s very relaxing. It’s a good way to beat the stress of daily life,” Rhadigan said.