Woodcarving competition returns after no COVID

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After a two-year hiatus, the woodcarvers have had the chance to show off their artistry in Saint Andrews.

The 15th Annual New Brunswick Wood Carving Competition this weekend welcomed carvers from across the province and as far away as British Columbia and Alabama.

Like most other events, the competition has taken a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gord Willett, an organizer with the New Brunswick Wood Carvers Association, said the competition is probably the second largest in Canada.

“This year we had almost 400 registrations, 400 carvings, which is way more than ever before,” Willett said.

Nearly 400 sculptures were submitted as part of the competition. (Lars Schwarz/CBC)

“We’ve had sculptors here who compete at world level and sculptors here that have been entered at world level. So pretty fantastic stuff.”

Although there were plenty of entries, Willett was a bit concerned about the limited number of entries in the younger age categories.

He said an important aspect of the competition is to attract young people to keep the art form alive.

He remembers his beginnings as a youngster.

“I started as a kid on my doorstep, whittling a bar of Irish soap with a paring knife,” Willett said.

Willett said an important aspect of the competition is to attract young people to keep the art form alive. (Lars Schwarz/CBC)

Katie Duchesneau’s father began carving as a retirement pursuit, and it appears carving was passed down to his daughter, Jenna.

“He told us about the little lesson this morning, so we went downstairs to check it out,” Duchesneau said.

“My daughter wanted to learn to carve, and he promised she would, but hasn’t done it yet.”

Willett said part of the challenge of getting kids into carving is getting them to visualize how a block of wood can be turned into a work of art.

But he found an interesting way to explain it.

“What if you take an ice cube tray and put a favorite toy in…and bury it in water and then freeze it,” Willett said.

“It’s still there. You can’t see it. It’s buried in ice, much like those birds are buried in a block of wood.”

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