Carving artists

When a man is on his knees using a thin brush to touch up the paint on a bench he has carved with a chainsaw out of a piece of wood, you know he’s serious about the craft.

“I’m obsessed with carving,” said Chauncey Poe, whose day job is with the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers in southeast Kansas. “I can’t sleep for thinking about all the things I want to carve and create.”

Poe was one of about 20 chainsaw artists who participated in the 19th annual Carving in the Ozarks, a free event for hobby carvers and enthusiasts April 26-27 in an area behind the CS Bank Financial Center.

“It rained and I still wasn’t miserable,” said Kevin Black, a first-year participant from Petersburg, W.Va. Tents kept the hobbyists safe from driving rains on Friday. At times, there was water streaming close by, Black said.

The event founded and run by David and Beverly Blankenship raised about $30,000 from daily auctions of creations made on site during the festival. Half of the auction proceeds go to the carvers, and the majority of net proceeds from the other half goes to Full Faith Ministries’ food pantry. Beverly Blankenship is pastor at Full Faith. Carving in the Ozarks also gives $1,000 from the event to the Eureka Springs High School Skills class.

The majority of carvings from the event were of wildlife creatures: bears, eagles, cardinals, owls, Bigfoot and the like – one artist even carved a firefly from a single piece of wood.

The winner is picked by dollars spent by patrons at the auctions, Blankenship said. Steven Higgins of Family Tree Carvings in Kansas City took away bragging rights with his carved eagle. Higgins has been carving by chainsaw since he was 11, when he undertook an apprenticeship under a master carver.

Though carving is Higgins’ livelihood, the art for many at Carving in the Ozarks is a side gig or something they do just for fun.