Weather Forecast


31st Annual Woodcarvers Festival draws a crowd

Rick Jensen, the 2014 Woodcarver of the Year named by Woodcarving Illustrated, displayed his work at the festival. Photo by Jillian Gandsey. 1 / 3
Pictured are two of Rick Jensen’s carvings that he had on display at the festival. Photo by Jillian Gandsey.2 / 3
A visitor to the youth workshop at the Blackduck Woodcarvers Festival gives her carving some color. Photo by Jillian Gandsey. 3 / 3

The 31st Annual Woodcarvers Festival hosted visitors who came to shop, carvers who were there to sell supplies or carvings and some were just there to display it.

One carver with work on display was Rick Jensen, who was recently named the 2014 Woodcarver of the Year by Woodcarving Illustrated.

“It depends on how busy I’ve been or what I have for inventory but my work goes pretty quick wherever I’m at,” Jensen said of selling his work at the festival. “I might take an order or something but I normally don’t do commission work.”

Jensen is originally from Washburn, N.D., and is now living in Crookston. He said he has only missed two or three years of the festival but has been attending since its inaugural year in 1983.

Jensen, who has been carving since he was 7, learned he was chosen as the Woodcarver of the Year two weeks ago and right before he went on a trip to teach a woodcarving class in Nebraska, which he does for a living.

“I teach woodcarving all over the U.S. and Canada,” Jensen said. “It’s fun. I really enjoy the people and the different cities and stuff like that.”

He also co-authored the “Illustrated Guide to Carving Tree Bark: Releasing Whimsical Houses and Woodspirits from Found Wood” in 2004, which features his carvings.

Another carver who has been drawn to the festival for a number of years is Alfred Lilgreen, whose booth has been in the same spot for all 15 years.

Lilgreen sells his smaller animal carvings with blanks so others can duplicate and make their own.

“It’s something I enjoy,” Lilgreen said. “I built my own band saw so I saw up all my own basswood and everything then I dry it out and I cut all my blanks out and that.”

Blackduck’s festival is the only woodcarving event that Lilgreen travels to from his home in Grand Rapids, Minn. in the summer. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Texas during the winter and will typically attend three woodcarving shows there.

“I take a lot of basswood with me down to Texas,” Lilgreen said. “There’s a lot of carvers down there.”

Peggy also sold knit hats and mittens at the festival and Lilgreen said he has been working on Morning Glory carvings to sell in the future.

“We come up here and we have fun visiting,” Lilgreen said. “My wife comes up and helps me and she has just as much fun doing it with the people. People are nice.”

In addition to the woodcarvers, about 60 arts and crafts vendors attended the festival, many local organizations provide food and drinks and a youth carving workshop was given. The workshop, led by Monte Draper, drew a crowd of about 120 children throughout the day and focused on a variety of projects recycled from the past.

The raffle winner of the Hooded Merganser carving by Gary Muhlenbruck of Thornton, Iowa, was Gordon Hertz of Cass Lake, Minn.

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

(218) 333-9786