Chainsaw sculpture competition comes to a close - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chainsaw sculpture competition comes to a close

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The sound of sawing may still echo through Carson Park, but the 2014 U.S. Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championship came to a close Sunday.  Ten of the top chainsaw carvers from all over the world were in Eau Claire.

"It's a destructive tool that is being used to create something beautiful and that's really exciting to me," says International Chainsaw Artist Simon O'Rourke.

Each contestant is given a chainsaw, and a log.

"It's eight feet tall and about 24-30 inches wide," explains Jerry Schieffer, the competition's Head Judge.

Over four days, they send sawdust flying, to create a piece of art.

"They go from 9:00 in the morning to 6:00 at night," says Schieffer.

Years ago, Simon O'Rourke never imagined he'd be here.

"I did my degree in illustration. I couldn't find a job as an illustrator and ended up doing tree surgery with a friend of mine. I then saw somebody carving and thought, I reckon I can do that," says the carver.

Now, he comes to Eau Claire all the way from Wales with a design in mind.

"This bear is actually a bear inside a man's suite. So you can take the guy's head off and you can see the head inside the hollow head," explains O'Rourke.

He hopes it will grab the judge's attention.

"The number one thing we're going to look for is the wow factor. How does that grab us? Then it's the degree of difficulty," says Schieffer.

Hours before the results, crowds are gathering

"The adrenaline rush really…" says O'Rourke.

And in the end, he takes fourth!

"You're fighting that feeling of a sting, you know what I mean, but it's good though," says O'Rourke after learning where he placed.

First place went to Steve Higgins of Missouri. His piece, along with the others, was then auctioned off.

"When I got into this in 2002, there were only 13 events. Here in 2014, there's 123 events listed all over the world," says Schieffer.

Eau Claire hopes to host the event again next year and O'Rourke also, hopes to be back. All of the carvings were auctioned off Sunday. The first place sculpture brought in the most money at $3,100. Half of that will go to the artist and the other half will go to the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum. 

Click here to visit the event's Facebook page, which lists all of the winners!
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