Our wonderful woods

Gifford would have loved it: Festival of Wood celebrates the fruits of our forests


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  • Sara Wojtowecz of Chain Saw Chix demonstrates her carving skills. (Photo by Linda Fields)






  • Learning about native wildlife at the National Park Service booth (Photo by Linda Fields)




  • A record turnout for the Festival of Wood (Photo by Linda Fields)



By Linda Fields

— The 10 annual Festival of Wood at the Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford on Aug. 2 and 3 drew thousands of people. They came for the crafts, the educational exhibits, the demonstrations, the food and the fun.

There couldn’t have been a more fitting venue for the festival than the ancestral home of former Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot, who founded the U.S. Forest Service.

“We counted close to four thousand people — a record number,” said Lori McKean, spokesperson for Grey Towers. Another record, said McKean, were the 26 high-quality wood crafters at the show. She pointed out that more and more attendees are coming to the festival to check out the 30 educational exhibits, looking for information on invasive insects or caring for native trees.

There were samples of wood from all over the world, and various animal skins on display by the Forest Service. Spike, the (very much alive) porcupine, showed off at the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center’s exhibit.

Among the artists, Bill Dauer, with the U.S. Forest Service in the White Mountain National Forest, explained the craft of intarsia, which is wood inlay using different colors of wood. And he brought his own impressive work to display.

Jeff Kuchack from Nicholson, in the endless mountains region of Pennsylvania, uses wood harvested from downed trees that fall during storms. His hand-carved wooden spoons are aptly called “storm spoons.”

Richard Beck of Benton, Pa., uses a chisel and a mallet in his carving, drawing on his years in North Carolina where he learned how to carve the original southern dough bowl. Sara Wojtowecz of Chain Saw Chix drew a huge crowd with her carving demonstration.

“Because it was our 10th year, the committee decided to bring back the more popular aspects," said McKean. "Little Bear, the Native American dancer, returned as did the stilt walkers from NACL, the North American Cultural Lab.”

This would have made Gifford Pinchot proud.

McKean agreed.

“We are able to maintain the strong educational message that he espoused: sustainable management of the forest." she said. "When he was the governor, he always opened his home up to the community. I think he would have loved this event."


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