The buzz of chainsaws and the smell of fresh sawdust will fill the air in Libby, Montana, as the world’s finest carvers come together to compete for the title of Kootenai Country Montana Chainsaw Carving Champion.
Fifteen of the world’s finest chainsaw artists have agreed to come to Libby to test their skills against each other in pursuit of the first-ever Kootenai Country Montana championship. The competitors include carvers from all across the United States, as well as two from the United Kingdom and one from Japan.
The competition will be an intense, three-day affair with the artists carving not only their competition masterpiece, but also engaging in several hour-long “quick carve” events during scheduled breaks.
The competition will be held on the street, allowing the public to watch the artists at work.
The idea for a chainsaw carving contest in Kootenai Country Montana came from Ron Adamson, a sculptor and carver from Libby, who will also be competing in the championship. Adamson approached Paul Bunn, owner/operator of Libby’s Venture Inn and Country Inn with the idea in January 2017. Bunn, who started Kootenai Country Montana as a means of introducing the beauty of Libby and the surrounding area to a broader national audience, recognized the potential of a chainsaw event in Libby and immediately embraced the idea.
“Everything we do with Kootenai Country Montana – the magazine, the website, the events we promote – it’s all about showing off the special qualities of this place we call home,” Bunn said. “A world-class chainsaw carving contest fits perfectly with the cultural heritage of this area. This is, more than anything else, a timber town. It was built by the timber industry. Chainsaw carving is an art form that grew out of that industry and heritage. This championship is an homage to the heritage.”
Bunn enlisted veteran carver and contest organizer Steve Backus of Bigshot Wood Carving to help put the contest together. Backus, with more than 35 years of experience in the carving world, immediately went to work lining up the slate of competitors.
To help promote the event throughout the international carving community, Backus brought in veteran carver and show promoters Rick and Liz Boni. The Bonis run the annual Ridgway Rendezvous chainsaw contest in Ridgway Pennsylvania, one of the biggest and most popular chainsaw events in the world.
“This is an event that will help showcase the natural beauty of Kootenai Country Montana and help to bring more people to our neck of the woods,” Bunn said. “What could possibly be more distinctly Montana than chainsaw art? And what could be better than bringing the very best in the world to the world’s most beautiful place for a live carving championship? We’re sure this will be an event we’ll be holding for as long as we can foresee.”
The event is scheduled to begin Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Libby. Carvers will work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning on their competition pieces with short “quick-carve” breaks. The quick-carve pieces will be available for public auction during the competition. The event will also feature a special Artists’ Reception & Auction on Saturday, with special pieces created by the competitors available for bidding and purchase.