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Artists gather in Libby for International Chainsaw Carving Championship

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Posted at 11:24 AM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 13:24:57-04

LIBBY - Downtown Libby was packed full of people and incredible sculptures at the Clash of the Carvers International Chainsaw Carving Championship this weekend.

“It is four days of complete organized chaos. It really is. You know, these guys are working as fast and as hard as they can,” said Troy Douthit, Kootenai Country Montana Director.

The sixth annual carving championship took over Libby’s downtown streets and sent sawdust and wood flying.

“It is an event that evolves over those four days. The first day, you know, all you're seeing is this big log, and then you see the carvers start to work on it and see things come off of it. Then things attached to it and so you start to see those developed over that time,” said Douthit.

Twenty carvers from around the world had to create one giant masterpiece with onlookers gawking over their shoulders while competing in a daily 90-minute quick carve event.

“It is a lot of work and I'll tell you that a guy will not keep doing this if he does not really love it,” said Donald Benson, a chainsaw carver from Washington.

Chainsaw carving is a strenuous craft, wielding heavy chainsaws and dealing with giant logs. Some of the artists carve as a full-time job and spend much of their time making production pieces. Benson sometimes loses his inspiration while producing high volumes of work but he always gets it back.

“Every once in a while I make something that's not just production work that just makes my heart happy,” said Benson.

Most of the pieces are inspired by animals and nature but some of the biggest inspiration comes from the competition.

“These carvers are phenomenal. I mean, these are some of the best carvers in the world. So to be able to get to carve with these guys really is an honor,” said Benson.

Although artists won money and people got to see world renowned carvers hard at work and purchase their beautiful artwork, this event is really about bringing people to small town Libby

“This isn't about us or any one person. It really is about Libby and showing Libby off to the rest of the world. Because in the end, this is what this is for is the people of Libby,” said Douthit.