20th annual Chainsaw Rendezvous set for April

Photo submitted
Brian Stockman
Staff Writer

Liz Boni, one of the organizers of the Ridgway Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous is full of stories she sits in the office of the Elk County Chamber of Commerce in Ridgway before a meeting about the upcoming festival planned for April 25-28.   She credits all the volunteers and the "carvers" for the success of the festival that began in her backyard with her husband, Rick, and his brother, Randy.
"It all happened at the right time, in the right place and spread over an internet that was still a work in progress at the time," Boni said.
The festival did spread with its own listing on Wikipedia under Chainsaw carving: 
"1999 marked the first year of the Ridgway Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous. Every spring hundreds of carvers go to a small town in the mountains of Pennsylvania for this event. The Chainsaw Carver Rendezvous is the biggest gathering of chainsaw carvers in the world and takes over the small town of Ridgway, Pennsylvania."
Looking back over the years, Boni recounted stories not many know about. One is about a carver who brought a camper to sleep in with his wife which froze solid overnight; they had to be helped out of the vehicle by popping out a side window. Or a carver who came coming from Japan and had all of his chainsaws confiscated at an airport in Ohio by the TSA arrangements were made get the equipment back and Fed-Ex'd to Ridgway. There were a few minor cuts and abrasions and even a heart attack one year, but there has never been a major bodily injury over the past 19 years of the festival caused by a chainsaw, which seems remarkable given that thousands of carvers have participated in this event year after year. 
Boni is most proud that the festival began the transformation of chainsaw carving from what was considered a regional folk art to a, now, contemporary artform.
"The chainsaw has done for sculptors what the electric guitar did for music," said Boni, "and the friendships that have developed between people all over the world because of this festival are a lasting tribute to all of those involved."
This year will see some major changes to the festival once again.

To read the full article, see today's publication of the Ridgway Record. (Monday, Feb. 18, 2019.)