Make the McKenzie Connection!

Carvers made it a family event

Carver kidsBLUE RIVER: Events like the Chainsaw Art Festival involve competitions like the daily quick carves or main event sculptures. Yet behind the scenes the interactions between the people operating those snarling saws are pretty open hearted.

That’s what Randy Gauthier of Moberly Lake, British Columbia, found out last year when a string of bad luck left all his gear in the wrong country. After other hassles with ticket agents and border officials he arrived at the show with little pocket money and no tools. Not for long, however. Other carvers lent him their own saws and grinders and he went on to complete works that gained a lot of praise despite his only six months of experience at the craft.

With a number of shows around the Northwest, America and the world, some competitors liken their solitary life to being a “chainsaw gypsy” when out on the circuit.

That’s not the case for everyone. Chris Foltz of North Bend is a pro carver who was in Blue River this year with his wife and two sons. His raw materials include working with both wood and ice which means his “season” can start in January and take him to more than a dozen venues. Three times so far in 2014 his family has been with him.

“It’s pretty fun,” says Gabriel Foltz. “We walk around and a lot of these carvers are our friends and it’s good to see them.”

For Porter Foltz it’s something he’s done “all his life.” At two years older, Gabriel says didn’t get as early a start.

Both have been learning some of the skills it takes to coax a piece of art out of a chunk of wood.

“They can help with anything,” according to their Mom, Kendra Foltz. “They’re just not allowed to hold chainsaws yet but they are learning the fundamentals.”

The boys do get to use die grinders, sanders and blow torches. Porter says he’s done mostly smiley faces while Gabriel has branched out to making “fish, wolves, coyotes, trees and loggers.”

And their work has been well received, with buyers anteing up sums in the three-digit zone during the nightly auctions held at the festival.

“We like it a lot,” Kendra says. “It’s great with the family. We mostly do just Oregon and Washington and they probably get to see a lot of things other children don’t. They’re everywhere.”

And how did the Foltz family feel about being at the McKenzie Chainsaw Art Festival? “This show was wonderful,” Kendra said. “Everyone treated us very well.”

Image above: Brothers Gabriel (left) and Porter Foltz were having a great time at this year’s Chainsaw Festival, where auction bidders vied to buy pieces they’d carved.


McKenzie River Reflections


Reader Comments(0)