NEWS

Chetwynd chainsaw carving competition could be on the chopping block

03/15/2015 02:00 EDT | Updated 05/15/2015 05:59 EDT
The Chetwynd Chainsaw Carving Competition could be axed this year due to a $30,000-funding shortfall.

For the past 11 summers, world-class chainsaw artists from as far away as Australia, Zimbabwe and Japan would arrive at Chetwynd to compete in the tournament.

They'd carve everything from mythical beasts to wildlife to dinosaurs, and the intricate pieces drew tons of tourists to the town.

But the five-day event may not happen this summer. A number of sponsors have pulled back their funding due to an economic downturn that has seen several local coal mines shut down, according to the Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce.

"It's going to be the second weekend in June and a lot of long faces," said manager Tonia Richter in an interview with Daybreak North. "We just celebrated our 10-year-anniversary. We're huge. We can't lose it."

The competition typically costs $86,000 to run, Richter said. The district offers $40,000 in funding, while the rest of the money usually comes from sponsors.

Richter says she's reached out to the community, asking for support. While another $3,000 has now been raised, it's nowhere near the $30,000 that's needed to keep the event going this summer.

Still, Richter says she remains optimistic. She's hoping the district may agree to a loan to cover the shortfall. Some carvers — the same ones who come to Chetwynd to compete for prize money — have also offered to chip in.

"To be invited to Chetwynd to carve with the best carvers in the world — that's why they come here," Richter said."They don't want to carve with amateurs or semi-pros — they want to carve with the best of the best, and that's why they don't want to see [the competition] fall."

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