Local and national artists alike will fire up their chainsaws and show the Shippensburg area what they’re made of next month during a new festival heading to the fairgrounds.

Mark your calendars for April 15-17 as Central PA’s inaugural Chainsaw Carvers Festival will draw carvers and artists from around the country who are over the moon to spend their time showcasing incredible talent and entertainment to the community.

The Chainsaw Carvers Festival is hosted by the Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and will feature the top professional chainsaw carving artists from all over the U.S. with carvings for sale, a carving competition, axe throwing, a sculpture auction, food trucks, activities and more. More than 60 carvers are registered for the event.

The festival will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 15; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17, at the Shippensburg Fairgrounds located at 10131 Possum Hollow Road.

The auction for masterpieces created by professional carver artists will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 17.

Admission is $5 per person, per day or $12 for a full event pass, if purchased in advance. A family event pass is $40. Children ages 6 and younger are admitted for free. Ticket price increases the day of the event.

Office Manager Wendy Forrester of the Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce noted the chamber is thrilled to be a part of this new event.

“The Chamber of Commerce is excited to host this new exciting event and to bring it to the Shippensburg Community,” she said. “The idea of the chamber developing this event came from our Chamber President Scott Brown as something new and different for our community to enjoy. Other local towns host ice carving events, and we wanted to go in a slightly different direction and host an event of this nature.”

“An event committee of volunteers was formed, which includes chamber staff and representatives from our board of directors,” Forrester added. “Planning started last year and the committee utilized contacts from other areas in Pennsylvania who have had success with an event such as this one.”

“Many sponsorship opportunities were advertised, and Volvo Construction Equipment and REMAX/Prestige partnered with the chamber to be our Co-Arena Sponsors (or main sponsors),” she noted. “We are very appreciative of their support, as well as the support from other members of the chamber who are partnering with us in sponsorships. Those members include: Truck Mart, LLC/Car Starz, Parsons Interstate Ford and Brenize Outdoor Design & Maintenance. We are still accepting sponsorships for this event and anyone who might be interested can contact the chamber office at: (717) 532-5509, or email us at: chamber@shippensburg.org.”

“The event will feature more than 60 professional chainsaw carving artists coming from many areas outside of Pennsylvania,” said Forrester. “There will be speed carving and a masterpiece auction on Saturday. Also joining the event will be artisan retail vendors, food trucks and Axe Slingers from Chambersburg. Tickets are now available on EventBrite and in-person ticket purchases will soon be available at the chamber office. Once that option is finalized, we will make that announcement on our social media.”

A few artists have shared their experience with chainsaw carving and how it has truly been an important part of their lives.

Danny Kissel of Newville, and the Food Network’s “Outrageous Pumpkins” and “Halloween Wars” fame, recounted how he got started with the art of carving.

“I'll be traveling in the whole way from Newville, and I graduated from Shippensburg high,” he said. “The festival is going to be a good time with good friends. To be honest, my chainsaw carver friends asked me if I heard about the event and was going, but at the time I had no idea there was even an event. Originally, it was going to be held last November, and I was too busy carving pumpkins to think about signing up. With COVID issues, it moved to the spring, so I’m able to attend. I’ve been carving off and on since 2012, where I made my first sculpture as a Christmas gift for my parents. That was also one of my first times touching a chainsaw. There were a few chainsaw carving TV shows around that time that I DVR’d and studied along with some YouTube videos. Like any art form, the more you work at it, the better you get. I have loads to learn, but I will enjoy the ride along the way. You’ll find me with a smile on my face, a chainsaw in my hand and music blasting from my headphones. I like to keep my chainsaw skills sharp, so I carve ice all winter long, and in the fall, switch over to pumpkins!”

Sarah Henderson explained her journey into woodburning and pyrography.

“I'm honored to be part of this event,” she said. “This is my first biggest event or show yet. I don’t chain sculptures, but I do pyrography or woodburning. I've been doing woodburning since high school. I give a lot of credit to Jesse Hyde, my high school art teacher, who always taught me to challenge myself all the time. I do all sorts of artwork, but got bored with just drawing and painting since that’s very common. I wanted to do something not many do, so in 2010, I gifted a lot of my work. I wasn’t very serious about it until a friend of mine who does craft shows in the area invited me to a farmers’ market, so I started there and....just kept going up. I live in Owego, New York. Check out my Instagram, Facebook group and page: Hart of Sarah.”

Josh Miller described how he stumbled upon the passion he has endured for chainsaw carving.

“About six years ago, I had to cut a tree down in my front yard,” he said. “I went and bought the cheapest electric chainsaw I could find, figuring I’d use it once and get rid of it. I played around with the stump and thought it was fun. It’s been a hobby, doing some fairs and small events up until last year. I was laid off from my job due to the pandemic and decided to go full time with it. This past year, I’ve grown so much as a carver, learning from quite a few guys that have been doing it for a while. I’ve worked on some pretty amazing projects with a few carvers. I’m just thankful I get to create something every day. I’m really looking forward to coming to the Shippensburg event and I’ll just be trying to soak up all the talent that’ll be there.”

Jennifer Black is grateful to call herself a member of the chainsaw carving community.

“I'm excited to get back to attending competitions,” she said. “I have six lined up this year, along with multiple fairs and festivals that have invited me throughout New York and Pennsylvania. I have been a chainsaw carver for nine years and devote my life to the art. I love to create and consider it a privilege to be an artist that isn’t starving. I am constantly humbled by customers who lay down their hard earned cash to purchase one of my creations. The chainsaw carving community truly is one big family. Every competition is like going home for a family reunion. I’ll be traveling from Dundee, New York, located in the Finger Lakes region.”

Chris Lantz explained how his life led him to begin chainsaw carving and the importance of the upcoming Chainsaw Carvers Festival.

“Back in 1989, a year before I was born, my dad and uncles used to party and do drugs, and they started going to church in Melbourne, Florida,” he said. “They met a man there named Ted Traverse and Ted told them he felt God was leading him to teach them how to chainsaw carve. So, he taught them and I watched for 19 years. Then, on Dec. 5, 2009, I left my house with a trash bag full of clothes, a $20 bill and a pack of cigarettes. I moved to an abandoned flea market in Columbus, Georgia, and slept there for a week and a half before getting my hands on a chainsaw. Two weeks later, I sold a bear for $125, and since then, I quit smoking cigarettes and gave my life to Jesus. I’ve been carving full time for 11 years, and competing for about 8. I have won over 30 various awards in competitions throughout the U.S. and one in England. I feel honored to be able to be a part of a first-time event. There’s a feeling among carvers that Shippensburg may become the new ‘Ridgway Rendezvous.’ That event was a staple for carvers for many years and it no longer happens. This event has the potential to fill that void between the chainsaw carving community and the needs of the public for entertainment and artwork. I hope I can do my part in making this one of the greatest carving shows on earth. I am very excited to come up and give it my all as far as performing. My goal is to rise above and to stand out, even in a field of 60 other artists.”

Sponsors include:

Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce

Volvo CE - Arena Sponsor

ReMax/Prestige - Arena Sponsor

Truck Mart, LLC/Car Starz - Food Sponsor

Parsons Interstate Ford 

Brenize Outdoor Design & Maintenance

The current vendor list includes:

-- Redemption BBQ: https://redemptionbarbeque.com/menu/

-- The Wheelhouse Cafe: https://cafewheelhouse.com/

-- Shuman’s Concessions: https://shumansconcessions.com/

-- Central PA Wireless Boost Mobile: https://www.cpawireless.com/

-- Baum’s Log Furniture: http://www.baumslogfurniture.com/

-- Melissa Ball Feather Painting: http://www.turkeytails.com/

-- Caribou Creek Knives: http://caribou-creek-knives.com/

-- Ox Dynasty Hickory Syrup 

-- Hart of Sarah

-- Dan Christ Gallery: https://danchristgallery.com/

-- Hiking with Hykes: (selling carved walking sticks)

-- Authentedge LLC: https://authentedge.com/

For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Central-PA-Chainsaw-Carvers-Festival-111579654305911/?ref=page_internal or email: chamber@shippensburg.org.

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