News Column

Chain saw sculptors rev up their tools to prove they are the best in the world

August 8, 2014

By Emily Miels, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.

Aug. 08--Chain saws roared and sawdust flew as the U.S. Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championship kicked off Thursday at Carson Park in Eau Claire.

The annual competition, which runs through Sunday, is expected to attract more than 13,000 people, said Diana Peterson, executive director of the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum, which puts on the event.

Professional chain saw carvers from around the world have 25 scheduled hours throughout the weekend to finish their carvings, which then will be judged and sold at auction on Sunday, Peterson said.

This year's competitors -- who hail from Japan, Wales, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, Missouri, Minnesota and, of course, Eau Claire -- were hard at work creating artistic masterpieces out of 8-foot pieces of wood.

"It's different," spectator Brent Knudson of Eau Claire said about the event. "There's a lot of talent."

Aaron Finney, a guest carver at the event and not participating in the competition, worked to carve a bench with an owl out of a 6-foot piece of white pine.

"We'll see how it turns out," he said.

Finney, a 21-year-old from Missouri who has been chain saw carving for about a year, said the project would probably take most of Thursday and today to complete.

"It depends how many cups of coffee I drink," he said with a laugh.

Jeff Sherman of Eau Claire, who was attending the competition for the second year with his wife, Julie, and their children, said the artists' creativity is what draws them to the event.

"We just admire it," he said.

Because it was the first day, he said it was too early to pick a favorite sculpture but was looking forward to seeing the finished products on Sunday.

"One of the pieces last year went for over $5,000 (at the auction)," he said.

While Thursday is generally the slowest day of the competition, Peterson said it's fun to come early and see the artistic process from beginning to end.

"They can see how it looks like when they start and then they can compare (Sunday) when come back and see the finished product," she said.

Besides wood carving, the event features food, a silent auction, arts and crafts, music, inflatables and other kids' activities.

Sherman encouraged people to attend the event.

"To have the U.S. Open in Eau Claire, why wouldn't you want to check it out?" he said.

Miels can be reached at 715-833-9214, 800-236-7077 or


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Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)

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