A walk through the eastern part of the Addison County Fair and Field Days grounds Wednesday revealed a diverse range of attractions and competitions.
Chris Nelson, a chainsaw carver from Lincoln, shared his thoughts on his trade and life.
“I started doing this in May 2013,” Nelson said, “so about 14 months now.”
Nelson, a former road foreman, taught himself to carve with a chainsaw when he got tired of his old job. Now he carves more or less full-time, and says that in recent months his business has started to pay off.
“It’s been getting a lot more notoriety,” Nelson said. His carvings are on display at the Jerusalem Corners Country Store in Starksboro year-round.
Part artist, part craftsman, Nelson is also a natural entertainer. The 39-year-old often travels to fairs to do quick carvings — sculptures that take about half an hour — for audiences of fairgoers. He also clearly enjoys talking to passersby about his craft.
“I put on a show, and entertain people,” Nelson said.
For Nelson it’s also important that he gives back to the community through his work. He tries to keep in the habit of donating carvings to charitable causes.
“I think it’s important to stay in the habit and remember where you came from. Pay it forward,” he said of raising money for charity, admitting, “I’m a bit of an idealist that way.”
Though he admits it was tough breaking into the understandably niche market of chainsaw carving, Nelson believes that his business has really come into its own this summer, as he travels to more fairs, perfects his craft, and spreads his enthusiasm.
“This is the first real line of work I’ve been in where I’m doing what I love and getting paid for it,” he said with a big smile.
— Weyland Joyner