Fairies and the Manly Art

Ah, it's nice to see summer in full swing, the hills bustin' out all over with life and the berries starting to redden, the call of bullfrogs in the valley, the sight of swallows in the evening sky... I could go on and on, couldn't I? Unlike the rest of the nation, we in the coastal GPN (Great Pacific Northwest, y'all) are enjoying cool breezes and perfect basking days, the kind that make you glad to be alive.

(Not to insinuate that the rest of the nation would make you miserable to be alive - New Jersey excluded - but a quick glance at the weather map shows, well... this:

Hooray for our little green wedge!)

Anyhoo, he sun is out and festival season is in full bloom, every town making the tourist call of love, hoping that passing flocks of travellers will come to roost.* Garlic Festival! Scandinavian Festival! Smelt Festival! Mushroom Festival! "Stand By Me" Festival! I'm not being silly - these are all real events scheduled in the upcoming months within the Great Green Wedge.

*(And lay eggs and make more baby tourists.)

But there was one in particular this summer that I could not miss, one which started after I left for college and has been taunting me wickedly ever since - Chainsaw Fest. It is, sadly, not the one and only Chainsaw Festival in the world, but one of the many competitions held throughout the country that draw international chainsaw artists with the lure of prizes and big money and bigger competitions. It weeds out weak carvers (those whose sculptures end up looking like a pine beetle attack) and sends the best ones on to compete in the national circuit. Kind of like a rodeo, only nicer to wear sandals to.

So over the course of four days I endured the buzz and broo-ha-ha of The Chainsaw Fest, watching ten foot high old-growth logs slowly dissolve in a cloud of sawdust. Admission was $1 at the door (25 cents for earplugs) allowing the lucky ticket holder and chance to enter the closest thing my town has to fairgrounds- a gravel lot. A classy gravel lot, thank you. And if said ticket holder got tired of watching the 30 or so carvers, he/she/it could eat crab, shop for chainsaws, or buy one of the ten thousand carved bears for sale. Why bears? This is a subject of great distress. I will elaborate.

For some strange and cosmic reason, every carver is required by the Carver Law to carve bears. I believe it is some kind of secret symbol with a far greater, sinister meaning, sort of like the thing the Free Masons have going. I'm sure if they had dug further into Alexander the Great's hidden treasures, they would've eventually discovered a carved bear. Freakin' bears.

I guess I have a deep-seated hatred for chainsaw carved bears. I don't know where this comes from, other than the fact that I'm tired of seeing them and wish carvers would get hooked on carving something else, like vegetables, or foreign children. Maybe I'm a bit sadistic, but I entered the free raffle at the door for the prize of a cheesy gigantic bear looking oh-so-adorable with a fishing pole in his paw just so that if I won it I could go burn it on the beach. I really don't like carved bears.

For those attending the festival who were disappointed to find they still had their hearing after an hour or so, the organizers had thoughtfully provided a Tent of Perpetual Deafness. Within this tent, you could take your place on the bleachers and bid on carvings up for sale, mostly the results of the one-hour Quick Carve competitions, provided you were not driven to blindness by the bellowing sound system mere inches away. The festival organizers also took into account the times between auctions, during which the meandering crowds of people might accidentally start trying to have conversations among themselves, and wisely safeguarded against this by blaring louder-than-chainsaw country music all across the grounds. Thus, sounds of the Chainsaw Festival:

*bzzzzzzzzz* "Nice carving!"
*bzzzzz -rmm -rmm* "What?"
*bzz- rmm -bzzzzzz* "What?!"
*bzzzZZZZbzzzzz -rmm -country music* "WHAT?!?"

The thing I love most about Chainsaw Fest, though, is that here is a activity designed for the manliest of men, guys who are trucking around in ripped T-shirts and steel-toes with their dogs watching from the bed of their pickups, guys who brag about the length of their bar, and yet it is basically an art festival. Art for the manly man. If you went up to one of these gentleman and said, "Oh, you're an artist!"... you would get a punch in the nose. It takes a lot of gas fumes and wood chips to disguise an art festival.

To top it off, this year's theme was "Fairy Tales." Yeah. So now you have about 30 or so burly guys with sharp implements trying to figure out the best way to carve a fairy princess. It's hilarious. I just love this concept. Some guys ditched all fairy efforts and ended up carving manly knights and bigfoots and Tarzan.

Sorry for so many piccies on my blog, but I just have to share a few from the fest. Here is me and ma' dawg enjoying the sight of fairy and frog.

And here is something you are not likely to see again- Big block of wood + power tools = SpongeBob. I really want to meet the kid who says, "Mummy! I want the big splintery wooden chair, mummy!"

The event ended with the awards ceremony, where I entered the Tent of Perpetual Deafness to discover an enormous pyramid of boxed chainsaws to be handed out. They gave out nearly a hundred chainsaws for things like "Best Friday Morning Quick Carve," "Squarest Wood Shavings," "Fewest Cuts to Self." All the while I'm standing there saying, "Give me a chainsaw! These people already have at least 6 chainsaws apiece! Aaaiye want a chainsaw!" So unfair.

Moral of the story - Buy one chainsaw. Enter competition. Win another twenty chainsaws. Live in happiness.


-W- said...

Hey, was Ellie Keeland there? She enters just about every year. She and Lloyd are almost family. I think she is one of the only female carvers at the event.

My mom and I went to Chainsaw Fest when I was back in town (to see Ellie) and there was this amazing Japanese artist who made a dragonfly. This gorgeous, lacy winged dragonfly--made with a chainsaw. The mystery!

Monster Library Student said...

One question...the child that wanted the Spongebob chair, was he/she British... "Mummy!" Too funny.

Your blog inspired me to find out what odd little festivals might be happening here in my neck of the world.

Kt said...

Yeah, my whiny imaginary children are always British, for some reason.

W, is this the Ellie married to Loon Lake Lloyd? If so, both she and Lloyd were there. She carved a gigantic bull standing on its hind legs holding what appeared to be a moon, but the fumes from her lacquering at the end drove me away from taking a better look. Japanese man was there too, and this time carved a wonderful Asian-style dragon, one of my favorites of the fest. And guess what? The friends of the town library chipped in to buy it! I'll have to go see where it ended up.

-W- said...

Yes, the same Ellie! She illustrated the book.

Good job F.O.T.L.!