California woodcarvers gather at Valley-Wide

The Ramona-Country Carvers held its 38th annual Woodcarving Show at Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District in San Jacinto last weekend, with 118 entries seeking awards

Photos by Corey Evan / The Valley Chronicle
The Ramona-Country Carvers also had some work of their own on display.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

If you were a Boy Scout, you probably remember pitching a tent in the forest…and then taking out your pocketknife and whittling away at a branch you found. For some, this has become a hobby even to this day. And what better place to show off your wood work than at the 38th annual Ramona-Country Carvers Woodcarving Show.
Dozens of woodcarving organizations set up shop at Valley-Wide Regional Park on Esplanade Avenue on Saturday, where they spent two days showing patrons their handiwork and even offered tips on how to perfect their woodwork. Why buy pre-made, run-of-the-mill wooden crafts when you can carve your own?

Photo by Corey Evan / The Valley Chronicle
Steve Sisson shows spectators the successes of his skills.

This year saw 118 entries seeking the coveted Best in Show awards, judged by members of the California Carvers Guild. These ranged from fine carving all the way to the downright cartoonish! The Looney Tunes even showed up at this year’s show, albeit made out of wood.
Among woodcarving groups present at this year’s show were the Riverside Chip Chuckers, the Tehachapi Mountain Carvers, and the Coachella Valley Carvers among others. Among individuals, Steve Sisson demonstrated not only his love for jazz through his art, but also how you can lodge a golf ball in your putter and have it stay there.
“I have to soak the wood for 24 hours, said Sisson. “There’s a lot more to it, but it can’t be too thick, and it can’t be too thin.” When he shows up to tee time with that putter, one has to imagine someone shouting “Fore!”

Photo by Corey Evan / The Valley Chronicle
Dozens of woodcarving organizations set up shop at Valley-Wide Regional Park on Esplanade Avenue.

On the other side of the coin, the Ramona-Carvers displayed the vest worn by longtime Carver member Genia Chapman, who recently passed away.
President Roger Harrison says that while patronage of the show has been good, this year’s numbers are still down a little bit: “Not as large as we’d like with the people coming in, but we still have a good turnout.”
Understandable, as woodcarving for a hobby (thanks to digital entertainment) often goes unnoticed.
“We’re trying to keep the art, and it is an art, out in the open so everyone can see it,” said Harrison. “We’re trying to promote it for everybody; it’s a dying art… It just takes your imagination, a little hand-eye coordination, and just enjoy it.”
But at least this year’s participants’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed. These individuals’ efforts were far from unnoticed:

Photo by Corey Evan / The Valley Chronicle
More than 100 participants and vendors were present last weekend at the Valley-Wide Recreation Center in San Jacinto.

Best in Show was awarded to Joe Purdue, for his detailed work in carving a trout. Perfect timing for Lent, right there.
The CCG awarded these individuals, as well as giving them a one-year membership with the Guild:
Bob Schmidt expertly landed a small bird on a water spigot to take the Expert level prize.
Audrey Wolf’s car carving drove her to win the Advanced level prize.
James Rocke carved a woody wagon, and won the Novice award having done a swell job. But can he carve us a few longboards?
In case you missed this year’s Woodcarving Show, you can get involved with the Carvers throughout the year. Find them on Facebook by searching ‘Ramona-Country Carvers’, check out the Carvers’ website at, or give Harrison a call at (951) 925-4765. Imagine what you could do with hardwood… but keep it G-rated, please.

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