ABOVE: A chainsaw artist puts the finishing touches on a custom-carved pelican at last year’s Sand & Sawdust Festival. More chainsaw artists will be featured this year, with more than 100 wood sculptures to be created on-site to be auctioned to the public.
                                RIGHT: Justin the Circler views his creative beach art using a drone. He will be back this year, teaching the art of “geo-scribing” on the beach.
                                File photos

ABOVE: A chainsaw artist puts the finishing touches on a custom-carved pelican at last year’s Sand & Sawdust Festival. More chainsaw artists will be featured this year, with more than 100 wood sculptures to be created on-site to be auctioned to the public. RIGHT: Justin the Circler views his creative beach art using a drone. He will be back this year, teaching the art of “geo-scribing” on the beach. File photos

Festival lighter on sand, heavier on sawdust this year

  • Wed Jun 20th, 2018 7:00pm
  • Life

The 2018 Five Star Dealerships Sand & Sawdust Festival reflects organizers’ efforts to elevate the event into one of the West Coast’s leading annual chainsaw art weekends.

This year, 29 registered carvers are set to create as many as 100 wood sculptures that will be presented to the public in live auctions each day of the three-day festival, which starts Friday at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.

“Our goal is to make this one of the premier events in carving,” said Piper Leslie, executive director of the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce, which is producing the festival.

“We would like Ocean Shores to be synonymous with carving,” she added. “There’s a lot of talent out here, a lot of people carving here.”

The chamber and festival executive producer Scott Nagel have expanded the free event to include an art show and demonstration, “Get Our Drift: Art of the Lower Peninsula,” produced by Associated Arts of Ocean Shores and featuring a dozen artists in action using motifs and materials from the coastal environs. Also planned are an eclectic array of nine food and beverage vendors, a live music stage, and around 70 vendor and nonprofit booths.

Although sand is still a major part of the festival, the traditional sand sculpture contests on the beach will not be part of the event this year. Leslie explained the chamber “made the difficult decision this year to eliminate professional sand sculpture down on the beach due to budget restrictions. The plan is to restructure the sand portion and come back next year with a larger emphasis on community contests.”

Still, sand offers plenty of opportunities for public participation. Well-known Aberdeen artist Doug Orr will conduct sand castle building workshops and sand “quick sculpt” competitions all three days, complete with prizes. He also work on his own large-scale sand castle in front of the Convention Center.

Orr, a former North Beach Chamber director, explained that the workshops offer folks the opportunity to “learn stuff they can go practice on the beach.” He said the crowd suggests topics for the quick sculpt competitions and volunteers will help. They will be joined by sand sculptor Eric Hawley, who created the signature sand sculptures at the Convention Center during past Sand & Sawdust Festivals.

Justin the Circler will be on the beach at the Chance a la Mer approach, giving guided instruction on the “sacred geometry” of mandalas and circle-derived patterns inscribed in the sand. He provides the needed tools — some custom-made and some as simple as rakes, rope and sticks — along with explanations and encouragement on the art of “geo-scribing,” starting at 2 p.m. and continuing until the tide comes in each day.

“Participants will draft circles, arcs and lines to create their mandalas, using basic instructions to dress them up,” he explained. He will then “freehand some organic designs around the mandalas,” tying the project together as a drone flies above to capture some bird’s-eye pictures.

Chainsaw carving will occupy much of the Convention Center parking lot, with live carving throughout the weekend and quick carve competitions late Friday and Saturday mornings. Also outdoors is the Bennett’s Fish Shack Stage, sponsored by Jeff Daniel and John L. Scott Realty with live music hosted by Ocean Shores’ community radio station, KOSW-FM 91.3.

The parking area will also host food vendors and a beer garden, a Five Star Dealerships auto display, a rock climbing wall, a pony ride and about 30 vendor booths.

Inside the Convention Center, live auctions of chainsaw art will take place onstage in the final two hours of each afternoon, along with the AAOS artists in action and around 40 craft, commercial and nonprofit booths.

For more information, visit sandandsawdust.org.