By Michelle Karas
Updated: May 17, 2018 at 8:25 am • Published: May 16, 2018
Whittling, some say, is a hobby of yore. But a Colorado Springs club's three-decades-plus longevity says otherwise.
The Pikes Peak Whittlers boast 60 carving enthusiasts, ages 12 to 88. The group's 35th annual Woodcarving & Woodworking Show and Competition will be this weekend at the Colorado Springs Shrine Club.
"The main purpose of our yearly show is to introduce people to woodcarving," said club spokesman John Armstrong, who's been carving for seven or eight years and woodworking for about 10. "It's for the whole family. We have hands-on things and giveaways for the kids."
The show has a circus theme, and the Whittlers have carved a full spate of characters including a ringmaster, human cannonball and animals, all of which will be displayed under a circus tent. When the show is over, they plan to donate the characters to a worthy cause, the Shriners Hospitals for Children - Salt Lake City.
Woodworkers will compete in carving and woodcraft arts over the two-day show. In addition to the art competition - with 13 categories that let artists show off skills at carving wood and gourds - there will be a whittling contest and vendors selling related items such as patterns, fine woods and tools, plus kids' activities such as soap carving.
Nationally known woodcarver Desiree Hajny of Blue Hill, Neb., a founding member of the Caricature Carvers of America, will be a judge. Attendees also get to vote for their favorite carver.
"Some of the carvers will sell their finished carvings at the show, and some will just display them," said club member Steve Gurnett.
A few will sell "rough outs," carvings that give the basic shape of an object but still need the finishing touches. One new demonstration this year is stone carving, and a returning favorite is gourd carving.
More than 700 visitors are anticipated, most from Colorado, with some expected from Arkansas, Florida and Nebraska, Gurnett said.
"For $3, it's a cheap day, and there will be more than 40 different carvers there who have different styles," said Gurnett, who has been whittling for more than 50 years and said he enjoys it more now that he's retired.
The Whittlers also are giving away about 50 "comfort birds" - palm-sized, smooth wood bird carvings meant to soothe a worried mind. A basket of the sweet critters will be at the show.
"We hope it will work that people will pass the bird along to the next person once it's done its job. So once you get comfort from it, you give it away," Gurnett said.
The club meets from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month at the Inn at Garden Plaza, 2520 International Circle. All are welcome to attend.