Ridgway is a beautiful Pennsylvania destination located east of the Allegheny National Forest. The town was settled in the 1820’s, and by the end of the 19th century, had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America. Visitors to modern Ridgway will have no trouble finding things to do; activities range from ATV tours of the Allegheny National Forest to shopping at local boutiques.
The Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous has been a must-visit Ridgway event for the past 18 years. It’s a family-friendly celebration that brings together the top chainsaw carvers from all over the world, so that they can showcase their unique skill set. Over 200 carvers will be participating, selling carvings, performing live demonstrations, and more. The carvings will be on display in downtown and visitors can speak to the artists about their works. Attendees will also have the option to listen to live music, eat at local restaurants, learn at carving seminars, and participate in auctions. Don't hesitate to make lodging plans because the event is extremely popular and event planners expect over 45,000 attendees. We got the opportunity to interview Liz Boni, a representative for the event, to talk about this unique showcase of chainsaw carving.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
LB: The Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous is celebrating its 18th year as an annual event. The dates for this year are March 11-18, 2017.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
LB: Over 200 carvers from all over the world come to Ridgway to showcase their talents. Some big names in the carving industry will also be displaying their artwork, as well as novice and beginner artisans.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
LB: This event is family friendly. There is something for everyone; even the dog loves it!
RAL: What can patrons expect for activities?
LB: We will have daily seminars on the art of chainsaw carving featuring some of the finest artists and their work. The public can walk through town and while being able to interact with the carvers and experience the art.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
LB: World class carvers from nine countries will be on hand to entertain the crowd.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
LB: Everything from food vendors to fine dining is available at the event and throughout the town.
RAL: What is the overall environment like?
LB: Last year over 45,000 people flocked to the gorgeous Pennsylvania Wilds to witness this event. It's a showcase that allows more than 200 chainsaw carvers from all over the world to display their talents, mingle with their peers, share and learn new techniques, and teach the craft to others. World Champions create one-hour "quick carve" sculptures and work on larger, more complex pieces of exceptional beauty and complexity throughout the week. There is also music, an auction of chainsaw art, the chance to buy large and small pieces from the assembled artists, communal meals, live music, and much more. All the artwork created at the event is auctioned off during the final Saturday. The auction starts at noon and is an excellent opportunity to own an original carving created at the Rendezvous.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
LB: There are hotels, motels, B&B’s, and Airbnb rentals available, as well as unique lodging options in nearby Benezette, home of a local elk viewing center.
RAL: Is there maybe one place in particular that guests have been flocking to since the event started?
LB: Jordan's Bar and Grill is the official hang out for the carvers. It features great food, live music, and a great place to meet all the carvers. On March 18, The Charlie Wheeler Trio will close out the celebration at Jordan's. They are chart climbing blues trio, whose roots are in Ridgway!
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
LB: It was the recipient of the Governor's’ Award for Creative Community in the Arts in 2009.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
LB: This event is very important to our local economy. We are a small town of 3,500 people, and many businesses rely on having the additional first quarter revenue.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
LB: It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. You have to experience it to understand it. The creative energy is almost overwhelming. It’s a week-long event and every day is exceptional. It’s a celebration of art and community.
For more information about the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous, please visit the event website.