Dan Richey carves during last year’s Bowser Carving Festival on Saturday outside of the Crown and Anchor Pub in Qualicum Bay. This year’s festival will feature Howard Lobb, Jerry Strelioff and Oscar Moria. — File

Wood chips will fly in Bowser at 5th carving fest

Three carvers taking part this year from Aug. 4-6

From a flurry of chainsaws and sawdust will emerge impressive wood carvings.

The 5th annual Bowser Carving Festival will run from August 4-6 this year in front of the Crown and Anchor Pub at 6120 Island Hwy. W.

It’s going to feature carvers Oscar Moria, Jerry Strelioff and Howard Lobb, all three of which took part in last year’s festival, said Moria.

Having begun the festival five years ago with artist Ken Kirkby, Moria said he’s hoping the festival is having the intended effect, which is to fill the town up full of carvings, attract tourism, and bring the community together.

The three carvers will use everything from chainsaws to chisels to blowtorches to hew sculptures from logs, working between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for the public to see each day.

The festival has worked by creating the large carvings for businesses, who purchase them and often display them publicly.

However, Moria said, “We’re starting to run out of businesses to purchase them.”

So carvers will be looking to the private sector to purchase the work, thereby helping to fund the festival.

Though Moria noted that the festival enjoys strong support from the community.

Moria said he got his start in wood carving about 17 years ago.

A builder who enjoyed working with wood, Moria was eventually given a chainsaw and entered into an Island carving competition.

Now, he carves everything from wooden gargoyles to 10-foot pheasants — whatever a customer might want, he said.

Though he particularly enjoys working on burls, he said – rounded outgrowths of trees where the grain has grown irregularly.

“They kind of dictate to you what you’re going to carve, the shape of it,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll look at a burl for a year and I won’t see anything, and then all of a sudden it will just pop.”

Though he added he also enjoys quick carves, where he uses a chainsaw to create a carving in about 20 minutes.

The Bowser festival gives carvers much more time to work, and time to enjoy each other’s company.

“I get to see my buddies and carve together,” he said.

In addition to getting to watch the carvers at work, Moria said they’ll each have smaller pieces available for the public to purchase if they wish.