Carving out a new path for Bowser

First wood carving extravaganza in Qualicum Bay and Bowser areas sets the scene for plenty of art on display

Carver Howard Lobb works on his giant bear carving on Saturday at the Sandbar Cafe in Qualicum Bay. Left

Carver Howard Lobb works on his giant bear carving on Saturday at the Sandbar Cafe in Qualicum Bay. Left

It was a carving extravaganza in Qualicum Bay last week and it  drew big crowds, said owner of the Sandbar Cafe Helen Hallett.

“Tons of people have been stopping by,” she said on Saturday, as the sculptors fine tuned their pieces on the last day of the event.

The idea for the event came from local artist Ken Kirkby, who wants to fill Bowser and Qualicum Bay with sculptures over the next 10 years, in order to attract more tourists. Four carvers started creating their large wooden pieces on Aug. 9 and carved throughout three days, completing them Aug. 11.

Kirkby said next year there will be even more carvers.

“Each year it will grow bigger and bigger and we’re going to fill Bowser with beautiful things made by human beings to attract people from all over the country,” he told The News prior to the event.

The four carvers: Howard Lobb, Dan Richey, Jerry Strelioff and Oscar Moria, impressed the crowd Saturday, as they used chainsaws, blow torches and other carving tools to bring their pieces to life.

The four carvings have already been bought this year by local merchants, explained Hallett: Tomm’s Food Village, the Salish Sea Market, The Crown and Anchor Pub and the Sandbar Cafe.

They will be displayed for the public to enjoy, and next year she hopes more of the town fills up with the art.

“We have two at this end (of town) and two on that end, so now we just have to fill in the rest,” she said, smiling.

Local merchants sponsored the event, providing  money, food and accommodation to the carvers.

Kirkby, president of the Nile Creek Enhancement Society (NCES), said people come to the area to fish Nile Creek thanks to the success the society has had restoring salmon, and now people will come see the sculptures and spend money in the area.

He’s hoping the annual event will put Bowser on the map, and with the media attention the event has received so far, it seems to be working.

“One of my customers (in the Sandbar Cafe) came up and said ‘I have to thank you for making our little community known’” said Hallett on Saturday, “and that makes it all worthwhile.”