RIDGWAY — Change is a good thing.
And this year, the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous in Ridgway will see some changes, as the event, which was formerly one week long and held in the bluster of February, will move to one weekend — from April 26-28.
“I am really excited about this year’s Rendezvous,” said organizer Liz Boni. “It’s coming together.”
In its 19th year, the event will feature 65 carvers, a reduction from prior years, however Boni said it will allow the event to be more focused to the area around the courthouse.
“It’s going to be interesting because it’s new and improved. This way it will be much more organized and much more focused,” said Boni, who added the smaller event will give a chance to put “untapped Appalachia,” or the talent throughout the region, on display.
She also hopes the date change will bring more enjoyable temperatures. The 2015 Rendezvous saw unseasonable highs in the 70s, which brought the largest crowds it’s ever seen. On average between 35,000-40,000 people attend the event.
Boni said this year’s evolution is just another chapter in the event’s history.
The event started as a small backyard gathering of family and friends, which has changed and moved from the Boni’s backyard to Sandy Beach Park to the Firemen’s Carnival grounds and to Motion Control on the West End before taking to the streets of downtown Ridgway.
Perhaps the biggest change next year will be the absence of the carving auction on the final day. Instead, carvers in this year’s Rendezvous will bring finished pieces with them to show and sell during their three-day stay.
Boni said a large reason for the transition away from the auction was participation. Last year 240 carvers submitted pieces and only about 300 people signed up to bid on the carvings. She said that pointed to the fact that “statistically and logistically it had to change.”
And while to some that may be perceived as a “void,” it will be filled with live entertainment, performances by local art groups, demonstrations by carvers, a quick carve exhibition, and a collaborative carving project. Additionally, this year’s Ridgway YMCA Triathlon & Challenge will be held the same weekend.
“It’s a labor of love and we’re reinventing the wheel and trying to bring as much to the public as we can,” Boni added. “We’re hoping everyone will come.”
For more information about the Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous visit chainsawrendezvous.org.