U.S. Open Chainsaw Sculpture Competition draws to a close

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) -- After 4 days of intense competition an area chainsaw championship comes to a close.

The U.S. Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championship ended today, with judges finally evaluating the finished product from master carvers around the world.

Bidders also had a chance to purchase those very pieces, and it's all for a very good cause.

The U.S. Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championship was at Carson Park for its 4th year.

Doreen Johnson from Colfax came out to see, what see says, are so many incredibly cool pieces.

During the final day of the competition, the competitors put down their chainsaws and waited for the judges to make their decision.

The first place winner is Steven Higgins from Missouri, who spent 25 hours carving his sculpture, just like his competitors.

Once the pieces are completed, they’re auctioned off. Executive Director of the Paul Bunyan camp, Diana Peterson, says half the proceeds from the auction will go to the carver, and the other half to support the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum.

"We have a lot of repairs to our building, of course with the logs that's ongoing maintenance.We'd also like to do some new exhibits, and that's all pretty pricey, so all money that we could put towards future renovations, and maintenance, and preservation for the logging camp," Peterson says.

Peterson says she didn't want a typical fundraiser for the camp but something fitting the logging industry and history of the Chippewa Valley.

Peterson says, “It's beautiful art work, I think Eau Claire is just growing and thriving as an arts community and this just contributes to that."

Master Carver, Chris Foltz ,says the prep takes longer than the actual carving but, that doesn't mean the work always goes as planned.

“That's really the fun part of it. You can make as much a plan as possible, and sometimes it gets really close to going the way you want, but other times I just tell myself it's God’s intervention, that I didn't design it right," says Foltz.

And, just like a true artist Foltz says, "I like my own work for about 30 seconds and then I need to do it again, try to make it good."

Peterson says 13,000 people attended the chainsaw championship over the past four days.

She expects $30,000 from the auction to be given to the Paul Bunyan logging camp.

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