New chainsaw champion to be crowned in Chetwynd

Two-time champ taking a break from this year's competition because of work

There will be a new chainsaw champ this year in Chetwynd. 

Chris Foltz, the Oregon-based carver who has been crowned the chainsaw sculpture king in Chetwynd for the past two years running, will be notably absent from this year’s event due to work obligations, leaving the door wide open for a new carving king.

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The annual event routinely draws crowds from across the world to Chetwynd to watch the roughly eight foot-tall Western Red Cedar logs transform into art. 

Carvers from the United States, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Canada will take part in this year’s event which starts June 9 and runs until June 12.

Competitors drew their logs last night and were then allowed to barter between themselves if they don’t like the one they’ve drawn.

“I’ve always thought, ‘why would they get rid of a large log?’” Tonia Richter, chief organizer of the event said. “But it is common because the designs they already have… some carvers who draw the largest log will end up trading it because it’s too big.”

The wood itself comes from a lumber yard in Campbell River that has been the competition’s exclusive supplier for a number of years. 

Richter says the red cedar is part of what makes the invitation-only competition such a draw in the chainsaw carving world. 

“The new carvers, ones who haven’t been here before, when they get a chance to come to Chetwynd, most of them have only dreamed of carving this kind of wood,” Richter said. 

In years past, carvers have remarked about the texture and the detail that the cedar allows them to pull out.

Each of the competitors will be given 36 hours to finish their piece. 

Guest judges flown in from around the world, will join the one local judge in evaluating the pieces based on the “wow factor,” difficulty, craftsmanship, effectiveness and impact of the design, finishing texture, correctness of form, use of material and “clarity of intent”—another way of asking “did this carving communicate what the carver wanted it to?”

On Sunday, carving of the judged sculptures will wrap up at 1 p.m., followed by a “quick carve” event, in which carvers will be given an hour to whip up a piece that will be auctioned off to the crowd. 

The award ceremonies will follow, where a new carving champ will be crowned.

The event is free to attend, but if you bring some cash you might be able to walk away with a carving of your own. However, the large pieces the carvers work on throughout the four days will stay in Chetwynd, where they will join the hundreds of others that line the streets, giving the town its unique claim to fame.

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