Lafayette resident Bongo Love carves his sculpture, “When We Are Together,” during last year’s Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. This year’s event is slated for June 15 to 18 at Craig City Park, with a festival and concert by The Outlaws on the final day.
In organizing Craig’s biggest summer event, Craig Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike has made some changes to this year’s Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. Some changes he believes people will be happy about, while others might not be as popular.
People attending the 12th annual Whittle the Wood will not be able to provide their own alcohol at the event, which will take place June 15 to 18 in Craig City Park.
Pike said the decision was made because Whittle the Wood organizers had been prompted by a similar event in Snowmass Village that had caused controversy with Colorado’s open container laws.
“We had a city attorney look into it, and the only thing that we can waive (the open container law for) is 3.2 beer,” he said. “We were mistakenly waiving the law when we can’t supersede a state statute. If you’re having a public event where anyone can come, then you can’t just say ‘bring your own’ unless you limit it to 3.2 beer.”
Alcoholic beverages sold by concession workers will still be available at Whittle the Wood.
Organizers with the Craig Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrot Heads received a special events permit from the city to fence off the park to qualify the area as a beer garden.
Pike said the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition will provide volunteers who will be working at the event with certification in Training for Intervention Procedures, which will allow them to check IDs at the gate and help anyone in the crowd who has had too much to drink if necessary.
“We’ve only had two incidents since this started where people were asked to leave,” Pike said. “For the most part, people have been well-behaved and we don’t see that changing this year.”
Anyone of legal drinking age can get a free bracelet for alcohol purchases at the entrance. People are also welcome to bring their own coolers with non-alcoholic beverages, though anyone who brings their own alcohol will be asked to remove it.
“I think this way it’ll be a little bit better controlled,” Pike said. “I know people will be disappointed because it was kind of a unique event with regards to that. We were never really notified that we were in the wrong, but our city attorney brought it to our attention that we’d probably better not do this anymore.”
Pike said he has also made another change to the event, which he hopes will go over well.
“We’re doing things a little bit different this year,” he said. “In the past we’ve planted the trees in the ground, and then they’re drawn by a lottery and the guys go around the park and carve. This year, we’re going to be putting all the carvers in the same area.”
The carvers — 12 of which are confirmed for this year with one on a wait list — will be lined up along Washington Street, which runs through the park.
“When the crowds get there, some of the carvers can get lost in the shuffle and it’s hard to find all the carvings because there are so many people there,” he said.
The different use of space will also allow people to circulate around the park and partake in vendor booths, Pike said. There will be nine different food vendors and 25 crafts vendors.
Pike said he is excited about the musical entertainment, the concert which concludes the Whittle the Wood every year. The opening act will be Filthy Children, a funk band based in Denver.
The main act will be Southern rock greats The Outlaws.
“It seems like our best bet has come from classic rock bands or country rock bands, so then the next step is to find somebody who fits into that genre, fits into our budget and also has some national recognition,” he said.
Pike said he expects the band’s appearance to draw a large crowd, such as last year’s concert by Blue Öyster Cult, which helped bring in the biggest turnout ever for Whittle the Wood.
“I think the biggest success in Whittle the Wood is getting someone with national recognition to add some flavor,” he said. “That’s kind of the mindset we have in finding bands, and I just got lucky on The Outlaws.”
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