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2008 Dollywood Woodcarving Showcase

By Debbie Herrin

Photography by Kelli Bartee

Dollywood chiseled out three days during the park’s annual National Gospel & Harvest Celebration for the 17th annual Woodcarving Showcase (Oct. 3 - 5, 2008).  The event welcomed carvers from nine states who competed, demonstrated and exhibited their intricate carvings.

The event got under way on Friday, Oct. 3, with the Woodcarving Competition, featuring an intermediate and two open divisions. Three teams of three judges narrowed down the field.  In the three different divisions, nine carvings were awarded the top “Best” honors.  The same judges also selected the Top 25 carvings which were placed on display in a special exhibit. From the Top 25, the carvers selected the Carver’s Choice award winner, while Dollywood guests voted the People’s Choice award winner.

The three - day event also featured a daily carving competition, which took place under a large tent on the park grounds.  Guests were able to observe the carvers’ work up - close and ask questions of the carvers.  Friday afternoon showcased the Team Carving competition with six teams of three carvers each.   During the competition, each carver was given a piece of wood of varying size. In addition, each team was given a television show title.  The challenge was to carve pieces which would enable the judges to guess the show’s title from the carvings. The winning team consisted of Wayne Shinlever, Doug Arrowood, and Ken Manning, each of who received $75. The second place team was Bruce Henn, Ernest Hill and Don Mertz, each winners of $50.  The third place team was Gary Falin, Don Worley and Ol’Don Burgdorf, winners of $25 each.

The shavings piled up during Saturday’s main event, the Whittling Contest.  Given a block of basswood, each carver was instructed to carve their interpretation of a “key chain”. The first place prize went to Renee’ Manning who took top honors and the $100 prize.  Terry Brasher won second place and $75, while third place and $50 went to Wayne Shinlever.  Gary Falin claimed the fourth place prize and $35; Vic Hood won fifth place and $25; and Ken Manning came in sixth and took home $15. 

The day’s festivities concluded with carvers and their families enjoying Dollywood’s famous Tennessee home - cooked dinner.  The Dollywood Special Events Department emceed at the Carvers Exchange which included door prizes donated by Dollywood.

On Sunday morning, Dollywood hosted the Awards Coffee featuring the park’s famous pastries.  Prize money was awarded, and the winner of the Carver’s Choice, Billy Reynolds, and the People’s Choice, Larry Nix, were announced. During the show, mystery judges visited with each carver’s table and talked with each carver while judging Best Booth. The judges’ criteria included originality, presentation of carvings, activity (such as demonstration) and interaction with the show guests.  Ken Manning was announced as winner of this year’s Best Booth award.

The show’s final event, the much - anticipated Great Pumpkin Carving Contest, took place Sunday afternoon.  Each carver was given a Dollywood home grown pumpkin and allowed to carve the subject of his or her choice. This event was exciting for the carvers and also great fun for Dollywood guests who watched the transformations take place.  Billy Reynolds won first place; Wayne Shinlever won second place; and Vic Hood claimed third place.  Once again, the carved pumpkins were donated to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn.

The complete list of ribbon winners includes:

Wildlife Realistic

  • Game Birds:  Randy Martin (first);  Norman Cage (second)
  • Birds of Prey:  Randy Martin (first); Norman Cage (second & honorable mention);  Russ Jackson (third)
  • Song:  Clair Smith (first); Randy Martin (second & honorable mention); Larry Nix (third); Russ Jackson (honorable mention)
  • Shore Birds:  Norman Cage (first)
  • Group Lifesize:  Clair Smith (first); Norman Cage (second)
  • Miniature:  Randy Martin (first & second); Norman Cage (third)
  • Miscellaneous:  Randy Martin (first); Doug Arrowood (second);
  • Waterfowl:  Randy Martin (first & second); Norman Cage (third)
  • Miniature Waterfowl:  Randy Martin (first & third); Norman Cage (third)
  • Aquatic:  Moses Hamblin (first)
  • Animals Realistic Group:  Janet Peek (first)
  • Best of Wildlife:  Clair Smith (first), Randy Martin (second), Clair Smith     (third).

Wood Sculpture

  • Miniatures:  Gary Falin (first); David Sharp (second); Don Mertz (third); Steve Smith (honorable mention)
  • Wildfowl & Aquatic:  Randy Martin (first); Randy Martin (second)
  • Animals Realistic:  Doug Arrowood (first); Doug Arrowood (second); Moses Hamblin (third)                       
  • Animal Caricature:  Don Worley (first); Steve Smith (second); Doug Arrowood (third)
  • Carousel Figures:  Moses Hamblin (first)                
  • Human - Bust realistic: Vic Hood (first & second); Terry Brasher (third & honorable mention); David Boone (honorable mention) & Larry Nix (honorable mention)
  • Bust caricature:  Wayne Shinlever (first); Gary Falin (second); Tony Harris (third).
  • Figures, painted:  Doug Arrowood (first); Don Mertz (second & honorable mention), Dick Belcher (third), Janet Peek (honorable mention).
  • Figures unpainted 15” and shorter:  Don Mertz (first);
  • Caricature single painted less than 7”:  Don Mertz (first & second); “Ol’ Don” Burgdorf (third)
  • Caricature single painted 7” & taller:  Tony Harris (first & honorable mention); Wayne Shinliver (second); Don Mertz (third); Reneé Manning (honorable mention)
  • Group realistic:  Abe Loudermilk (first); Larry Nix (second); David Boone (third); Moses Hamblin (honorable mention)
  • Group caricature:  David Boone (first), “Ol’ Don Burgdorf” (second); Don Worley (third & honorable mention)
  • Clowns:  “Ol’ Don” Burgdorf (first)
  • Santa Claus:  Wayne Shinlever (first); David Boone (second), Gary Falin (third & honorable mention); Don Mertz (honorable mention)
  • Mythical Figures:  Don Mertz (first); Tony Erickson (second) 
  • Patriotic:  Don Mertz (first)
  • Relief Ornamental:  Jay Brasher (first); Doug Arrowood (second);
  • Relief Pictorial:  Terry Brasher (first); Donald James (second); Myron Sanlin (third) 
  • Landscape:  Janet Peek (first)
  • Chip:  John Roth (first & second); Mickey Hudspeth (third & honorable mention); Jay Brasher (honorable mention)
  • Stylized–Ray Kunz (first); Dick Belcher (second)
  • Jewelry–B:  lly Reynolds (first); Don Mertz (second); Larry Nix (third); Renee’ Manning (honorable mention)
  • Found Wood:  Billy Reynolds (first); Renee’ Manning (second); Jay Brasher (third); Ken Manning (honorable mention); Vic Hood (honorable mention)
  • Walking Sticks:  Neiland Hale (first & second); Tony Erickson (third); Ken Manning (honorable mention)
  • Bottlestoppers:  Gary Falin (first & second)
  • Miscellaneous:  Don Mertz (first); Neiland Hale (second); Gary Falin (third); Dick Belcher (honorable mention); Tony Harris (honorable mention), Wayne Shinlever (honorable mention)
  • Best of Wood Sculpture:  Vic Hood (first & second); Billy Reynolds (third)


  • Birds:  Don James (first); Leland Brock (second); Charles Simpson (third)
  • Aquatic:  Wayne Absher (first & second); Max Mays (third); Don James (honorable mention)
  • Animals Realistic:  David Sharp (first & second); Don James (honorable mention)
  • Animal Caricature:  Charles Simpson (first & second); Max Mays (third)
  • Human Realistic:  Don James (first & second)
  • Human Caricature: David Sharp (first & second); Ernest Hill (third& honorable mention); Leland Brock (honorable mention)
  • Human Bust :  Leland Brock (first)
  • Mythical, Santa Claus, Angels:  Don James (first & second); Ernest Hill (third); David Sharp (honorable mention) 
  • Group:  Don James (first); Charles Simpson (second & third)
  • Bottlestoppers:  David Sharp (first); Ernest Hill (second)
  • Jewelry:  Charles Simpson (first)
  • Relief:  David Sharp (first & third),  Don James (second)
  • Found Wood:  David Sharp (first)
  • Miscellaneous:  Sandra Burgdorf (first); Charles Simpson (second & third)
  • Best of Intermediate:  Don James (first); David Sharp (second & third)

To visit the 2008 Winners Gallery Click HERE

The 2009 Dollywood Woodcarving Showcase is set for October 2 - 4. The three - day event takes place amid the country’s largest celebration of Southern gospel music and one of the Smokies’ largest outdoor crafts festivals at Dollywood.  Visiting crafters will demonstrate a unique array of skills ranging from traditional pioneer crafts born of necessity to innovative forms of artistry.

For complete information, please contact Kelli Bartee, Dollywood Events Manager, 865 - 428 - 9563; or Debbie Herrin, Special Events Administrative Assistant, 865 - 428 - 9865;; fax 865 - 428 - 9828; 1020 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 37863.

Copyright 2009, All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.