Weather Forecast


Traditions 'carved' into history; Annual Blackduck festival is Saturday

MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER Diane McKean holds a full-sized American Wigeon drake carved by Gary Muhlenbruck that will be raffled off at Saturday's 30th annual Blackduck Woodcarvers Festival. More than 40 booths of the best carvers in the region will fill the Wayside Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

BLACKDUCK -- The Blackduck Woodcarvers Festival always falls the on the last Saturday of July and this year marks the 30th Saturday the festival has celebrated the unique art of woodcarving.

"It's the biggest event we bring to the community," festival organizer Rob Stomberg said. "It's just something that is good for the community and good for Blackduck. Different groups come out and sell food and it gives them a chance to raise some money."

Stomberg is a local carver and owner of the Blackduck business, Northlander Gift Shop, and has been affiliated with the festival since its founding in 1983.

The day's events begin at 9 a.m. with classes, displays, music and food and concludes at 4 p.m. with a raffle of a donated handmade carving by one of the local carvers.

The Blackduck Woodcarvers Festival was originally started by late Twin Cities carver Jim Schram Sr., a retiree who moved to Blackduck and bought a hobby farm, bringing his love and skill for woodcarving along with him. Before his death two years ago, Schram built a legendary reputation among the community that started with a few workshops and classes, which grew so popular that he and a few friends started the first Woodcarvers Festival 30 years ago.

The festival has two parts: The woodcarving displays and sales in Wayside Rest Park and an arts and crafts show located on a closed section of Summit Avenue. There will also be music, food and vendor sales throughout the park.

"We have over 40 woodcarvers and 60 arts and crafts people (registered)," Stomberg said. During his first years helping with the festival, Stomberg said as a young man he worked alongside the amateur and professional carvers, but now that many of the older carvers are no longer around, he's "had to take it over."

While they've had more carvers and vendors in past years, the community still expects a good turnout.

"This year, we have local organizations with food. The Lions (Club) does brats and the Garden Club makes fry bread tacos. There are also school groups and local people who make ethnic foods," Stomberg said. "I also work with the carvers year round. You've got to start reserving things."

Every aspect of the festival is outside - rain or shine - tables, exhibits, vendors, music and classes will all be located at Wayside Rest either under a tent or under the sun. Jon Romer, musician and carver of the Native American flute, will perform at the Wayside Rest gazebo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Romer carves all of his own instruments and has performed at Kitchigami Regional Library Legacy Fund events and taught flute classes at the Leech Lake Tribal College.

After 30 years, the Blackduck Woodcarvers Festival continues to highlight the beauty and skill of woodcarving in addition to celebrating the work of local carvers, Stomberg said.

"It gives an opportunity for people to see it and to see all its different aspects," Stomberg said.

If you go:

10 a.m. - Kids carving class

11 a.m. - Flutist Jon Romer performs

4 p.m. - Carving raffle drawing

9 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Arts and crafts show, carving displays and food