Forgive the long post, but this is an article written by Martha Bralkowski from Jordan's Grille - many of you know her. I just think it's a great article and will be featured in one of the tourist Magazines about Elk County:::
Ridgway Pennsylvania, the historic and scenic little town nestled along the edge of the Allegheny National Forest, is a place where many go to find themselves. Campers, hunters, and people tired of city living all gravitate to this little gem of the Pennsylvania Wilds to enjoy the nature, the solace of the woods, and the traditional values and community that thrives within.
Still, theres another side to Ridgway that may be less obvious, but is still a driving facet. Ridgway is known for its pocket of talented artists. And if youre fortunate enough to find yourself here during the last week of February, you will see firsthand how the downtown streets are buzzing with inspired activity.
Ridgway Rendezvous, the now 15 year old brain child of the Appalachian Arts Studio and the Boni family is the worlds largest gathering of chainsaw carvers. Though chainsaw carving itself is a fairly new medium of art combining sculpture with woodwork and a little bit of performance, it never ceases to amaze how many talented artists travel across the globe to participate in this annual event and show off their skills.
What started as a back yard celebration of family and friends who were into carving grew from 12 to over 200 in the past 15 years. The Ridgway Rendezvous has endured a number of venue changes in that period of time, but now, at the end of every February, with the support of the community, Ridgways Main Street is transformed into an outdoor studio, and on every street corner is a different artist practicing their own unique interpretation of the craft.
Something that is quite striking about the Rendezvous is the nature of the event itself. While you may see carvers partake in friendly competition during Rendezvous, thats really not what its about. And while most artists bring samples of their work to sell to the public throughout the week, that isnt the main focus either. Ask any chainsaw carver why they come to Ridgway, and they will tell you, its all about the experience.
Having the opportunity to meet other artists one may have admired from afar, being able to see how other chainsaw carvers from different regions work their trade, catching up with friends made in Rendezvous past those seem to be the main reasons why these artists continue to come to Ridgway every year. And for every carver diligently plugging away at a piece of art, you will probably run into a handful more on the street, filled with inspiration and the joy that only comes with being amongst peers that have turned into family, who are more than happy to share their lives, their art, and their unique stories with you.
Though the Ridgway Rendezvous has many sponsors who help make the event possible, one of the ways it has continued to thrive so long is the annual auction. Held on the last Saturday of Rendezvous, (this year, Saturday, March 1,) each artists focus piece of the week is auctioned off to the public. This is an amazing opportunity for the public to get their hands on a one of a kind carving, often times of masterpiece stature.
What makes the auction even more fascinating is the fact that throughout the week, one can see these pieces coming to life on a daily basis from start to finish. Knowing how a simple log develops into a beautiful carving, meeting the artist behind that, and seeing the amount of labor and love that goes into producing such a piece really makes any auction purchase something that will be a meaningful part of your art collection eternally.
So what can one expect if they decide to make the trip to Ridgway for the 15th annual Ridgway Rendezvous running from February 22 to March 1, 2014? First of all, you will see our cozy little town at its very finest. From your luxurious but wallet friendly stay at one of our beautiful historic bed and breakfasts, to the surprisingly strong retail district offering something for all sorts of shoppers, world class cross country ski trails, hiking, historical tours of our famous Hyde Murphy estates, and the amazing food prepared at our local restaurants by passionate chefs the town of Ridgway itself has plenty of reasons to come and stay awhile.
Things really pick up during Rendezvous, however.
There are chainsaws. There is noise. There is sawdust. There is art created all around you. There are photo ops galore. There are people everywhere. It is orchestrated chaos like you will never experience anywhere else. Ridgway is where the carvers go. From the world famous and classically trained artists to the guy down the street who just started stabbing at logs a few months ago and may one day end up being the best in his trade, Rendezvous is a time and place where all these folks gather and make magic. With no other pretenses than doing something that they love with people who they love for an entire week, the air is thick with talent and excitement.
This years 15th annual Ridgway Rendezvous runs from February 22, to March 1st. For more information, and to see photos of Rendezvous past please visithttp://chainsawrendezvous.org
or contact Liz at Appalachian Arts Studio (814) 772-0400.