Chainsaw Carving Competition

by Jenny Chissus

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The excitement of the competition is palpable!  The noise is something you can’t ignore – and the draw to the event site each day is something phenomenal!  To see our beautiful natural spruce logs turn into incredible masterpieces each year in the most beautifully situated community in Alaska is an experience that becomes an addiction!  If you’ve never seen a chainsaw carving competition, or been to Seldovia – you are missing out!

The Chainsaw Carving Competition is a very special Seldovia event, which not only brings a fantastic weekend of activity, excitement, art and fun to Seldovia, but adds a flavor to our town, a growing ‘outdoor museum’ of art that enriches our community that we are able to enjoy year-round!

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Recap of the 2014 Competition

Toby & Elaine Craft -Photo from 2007 Carving Competition - photo by Jenny Chissus

Toby & Elaine Craft -Photo from 2007 Carving Competition – photo by Jenny Chissus

This was Seldovia’s 9th Annual CICCC (Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition) which started in 2006 under the guidance and encouragement of two local carvers, Toby and Elaine Craft. (Pictured at the right)  Toby and Elaine had competed before in chainsaw carving events and thought it would be a fantastic competition to host in Seldovia.   There had always been the ice carving festival in Fairbanks, but the chainsaw carving of local spruce, this was the first of its kind in Alaska!   Tom and Mary Glover were  instrumental in gathering the committee and an amazing tradition was formed!

Master Carvers for the Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition 2014 - photo by Chris Crosta

Master Carvers for the Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition 2014 – photo by Chris Crosta

This year, along with two carvers from out-of-state, Jeff Samudosky from Gig Harbor, and Chris Foltz from North Bend Oregon, Toby and Elaine came all the way from Texas to be a part of our event as judges!  We truly appreciated the opportunity to thank them in person for this GREAT idea – and acknowledge them for being the inspiration and the namesake of our competition!  It was so good to see them again in Seldovia!  Toby generously awarded our People’s Choice Winner – Jeff Samudosky, with a pair of beautiful hand carved orcas.

There were some big changes to the competition this year!  The biggest change was the venue – as the competition site was moved from the old cannery lot across from the AMHS dock to the parking area next to our new Gateway Pavilion in the heart of town.  In spite of the noise of the saws, the committee received unanimous support for the move by the businesses and residences in the area.  This put the competition next to the harbor and right in the middle of all the action on Main Street!  It turned out to be a fabulous change, bringing more people and activity to the competition.  The second change was adding competitors from out of state.  We have always had carvers from Alaska in our competition, and it truly raised the bar for our event and brought awareness to the national chainsaw carving competitions and competitors that Seldovia is a great place to compete!

The Master Carvers for the 2014 Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition were:

Rob Younkins with the Raven God legend - how mankind received the first salmon

Rob Younkins with the Raven God legend – how mankind received the first salmon – photo by Chris Crosta

Log 1

29″ x 8’4″

Rob Younkins

Anchorage, Alaska

Rob carves with his wife as his assistant at these competitions! He is an easy-going, fun-loving, no-sweat kind of guy!  And, as you’ll note in this bio – a bit of a comedian!  Previously a landscape architect, this is his first year carving full-time, though he’s has competed in the Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition since 2010.  Rob took 3rd place in the 2013 competition with his native dancers!  He also enjoys writing, reading and doing polynomial long division.  “All of these interests help my carving technique to stay unique and imaginative.”  When his wife was in labor with their first child, she said “Hurry up, I need to get to the hospital!”  Rob replied “Just a minute, I have to finish this bear!”  He did mention that he is thinking about going “full cowboy” – boots, hat, buckle and most importantly, a sleeveless shirt!
Jeff Samudosky with his Alaskan Wildlife masterpiece - photo by Chris Crosta

Jeff Samudosky with his Alaskan Wildlife masterpiece – photo by Chris Crosta

Log 2

35″ x 8’9″

Jeff Samudosky

Gig Harbor, Washington

1st Place and People’s Choice

Originally from Connecticut, Jeff has traveled and lived in many places across the US and Canada.  He is 100% self-taught, and has been carving for over 16 years!  His company, JMS Wood Sculpture shop and gallery is located in Gig Harbor, Washington.  Jeff was featured as an animal anatomy specialist on Discovery Channel’s carving reality show – Saw Dogs!  Jeff has won the first place award at 9 competitions in the last 3 years, including Chetwynd in BC Canada, Loggerodeo in Washington and at the Husky World Cup in Germany!  He has placed 2nd or 3rd in 5 other competitions over the past 3 years!
Chris Foltz' yellow--eye fish - photo by Chris Crosta

Chris Foltz’ yellow–eye fish – photo by Chris Crosta

Log 3

31.5″ x 8’4″

Chris Foltz

North Bend, Oregon

3rd Place

Chris has been a professional Competition Power Sculptor for 5 years and holds more than 15 1st place international wins including Ice & Wood Sculpture.  Chris has been profiled on Reality TV Series Saw Dogs - on the Discovery Channel and has been the USA Team Captain at Fairbanks World Ice Art Championships since 2009.  In addition to being a Husband & Father of 3, Chris also has other endeavors, as he is an Executive Chef and Chef Instructor at Oregon Coast Culinary Institute “OCCI”.  Owner of “Divine Sculptures” Professional World Class Ice & Wood Sculptures serving the West Coast and Beyond
Ben Firth with his grand seal - photo by Chris Crosta

Ben Firth with his grand seal – photo by Chris Crosta

Log 4

35″ x 8’5″ 

Ben Firth

Anchor Point, Alaska

Ben Firth is an artist who works in a wide variety of mediums.  This is the 4th year he and his son Silas have competed in Seldovia.  Ben is joined by 4 of his children in Seldovia this year – Silas, Aurora, Sarah and Josiah.  Between Ben, Silas and Aurora (his daughter), there is a lot of beautiful artwork to be seen and purchased in his studio, located at mile 161 on the Sterling Highway.  Stop by and see the many artistic talents of Ben and his family!
Derrick Stanton with his Alaskan Raven -photo by Chris Crosta
Derrick Stanton with his Alaskan Raven -photo by Chris Crosta

Log 5

39″ x 7’4″ 

Derrick Stanton

Kenai, Alaska

2nd Place

Derrick Stanton has been carving now for eight years. He and his wife Becky along with their five kids run Derrick Stanton Log Works. This was Derrick’s sixth year carving in Seldovia. He has won once in Seldovia and twice in Saw Fest, which in held in Soldotna, Alaska. Along with his awards he has received People’s Choice twice. Derrick and his family look forward to coming down to carve in the Seldovia competition every year.

With the competition this year, we have almost 50 carvings in our community, representing 9 years of competition!  Some folks have referred to the masterpieces as Seldovia’s Outdoor Carving “Museum”!  Most of the carvings are outdoors, under cover and in front of businesses and in parks about town, don’t miss those that are located inside the library, museum and Multi-purpose room!  If you look at photo blogs from Seldovia, you will note that the majority of the photographers have found that our carvings are one of the most photographed items in Seldovia!  The otters, the slough homes and the carvings are the symbols representing our community!

Ben and Silas Firth working together on the seal.  Photo by Sonny Chissus

Ben and Silas Firth working together on the seal. Photo by Sonny Chissus

If you are a Chamber of Commerce member, and are interested in hosting one of the carvings at your place of business – please feel free to contact one of the Chainsaw Committee members for consideration.  We have our 2014 carvings to place as well as a few others that will be relocated this year.

Obviously, none of this could happen without the huge financial, physical and volunteer support from so many individuals, organizations and businesses in Seldovia! A Huge thank you goes out to the Seldovia Chamber of Commerce for believing in, and sponsoring this fantastic event.  The whole purpose of the competition is to bring new people to town to stay in our hotels and B&Bs, eat in our restaurants and to add beauty to our community!  This was one more reason for folks to choose Seldovia as their vacation destination!  There has been a ton of support and interest in the competition as well as the beauty it provides the whole community year-round!   As you can see from this long list of sponsors, there are many folks generously giving of time, energy and finances to bring this event to Seldovia and make it a success!

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We want to extend a very appreciative thank you to our 1st Platinum Sponsor, Conoco Phillips, who was our top sponsor of the event this year.  We are working with them as they are in the sponsorship position to select a carving of their choice from the competition to place in their corporate office!  We will let you know when that is decided!

We couldn’t do this competition without our GOLD Sponsors - the Swisher Family and Hopkins Brothers Construction - who procured these fabulous logs for the competition.  Without their generous donation and effort to transport these great logs to our site – this competition wouldn’t happen!  Thank you!
Jim Samudosky working on the wolf at the top of the carving. Photo by Sonny Chissus

Jim Samudosky working on the wolf at the top of the carving. Photo by Sonny Chissus

To the following Silver Sponsors who donated at least $1,000, in cash or in-kind: AeroTech LLC, Alaska Air Taxi, City of Seldovia,  Elitewood Cabinets, Seldovia Fishing Adventures, Seldovia Chamber of Commerce,  Seldovia Property and Winter Watch.  Thank you for your very generous donations and assistance with this event!

To our fabulous Bronze Sponsors - who donated $500 or more to our event either in cash or in-kind:  Alaska Marine Highway System, The Seldovia Native Association, The Seldovia Village Tribe and Spenard Builder’s Supply! We are so grateful for your support of our event, recognizing that it is a worthwhile and asset to our community!
We want to thank OUR MANY GENEROUS COMMUNITY SPONSORS, to those who hosted a meal:  Byron and Margie McCord who provided breakfast every morning for the carvers and their families, Linwood Bar and Grill, Perry’s Cafe, Bridgekeeper’s Inn, Indian Valley Meats and Suzie and Jerry Stranik.  The two new carvers to our competition, Chris and Jeff were totally impressed with the royal treatment they received at our event!  They were usually offered hotdogs and hamburgers at other competitions, and in Seldovia they enjoyed a home cooked breakfast each morning, delicious pot roast lunch, gourmet hotdogs, fresh halibut dinner and a glorious community potluck!  The carvers were very well fed!  Thank you!
Derrick working on his majestic raven.  Photo by Liane Crosta

Derrick working on his majestic raven. Photo by Liane Crosta

We appreciate the community for their support and excitement in hosting the carvers and their families.  Thank you to Tobben and Tanya Spurkland, Dick and Sammie Reason, Cory and Dawhn Bodyfelt, Brent and Raewyn Weyer with Seldovia Fishing Adventures and Mike and Nicola Holman who generously offered their homes and rooms to host our carvers this year!

Thank you again to the City of Seldovia for the use of this spectacular location and for the ongoing support in the set up and breakdown of the site!
Without ALL of your financial, in-kind and Physical support – this couldn’t come together so beautifully!  We appreciate the following individuals or businesses that gave generously for the auctions or donated in a financial way!  Alaska Airlines, Alaska USA, Bear Creek Winery, The Boardwalk Hotel, Captain’s Coffee, Central Charters, Central Suites of Seldovia, Crabpot Grocery, Dancing Eagles, Homer Electric Association, Homer Brewery, Kachemak Gear Shed, Mike Sage, Smokey Bay Air and Thyme on the Boardwalk!
Rob putting finishing touches on his Raven God.  Photo by Sonny Chissus

Rob putting finishing touches on his Raven God. Photo by Sonny Chissus

I also have to acknowledge the most AWESOME Committee ever – that truly pulled together to bring this great event to you this year.  Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, I had to fly out of Seldovia on the 1st day of the event, leaving the committee to manage the weekend without me.  Thankfully, I have an incredible husband, Paul “Sonny” Chissus, who loves the Chainsaw Competition as much as I do, and we have a committee of fantastic individuals:  Chris and Liane Crosta, Byron and Margie McCord and Suzie Stranik - who made it all come together!

Chris carving the details on his yellow eye fish.  Photo by Liane Crosta

Chris carving the details on his yellow eye fish. Photo by Liane Crosta

Thank you to my in-laws, Paul and Ginny Chissus who rallied even more volunteers (Carolyn, Cathy, Harmony & Jan) to assist with the auctions and registration for the Mini Marathon as well as helped out in any other way that came about!  Thanks for jumping in and doing whatever needed to be done to make things happen! We totally appreciate Tobben Spurkland who added his experience and professionalism to our 1st annual Mini Marathon!   And to the Crosta family, including Bryce and  Lindsey who helped mark the course and monitor the marathon!  Thank you to Mike Webber and Mark Wegner who assisted on the site and helped Sonny with the logistics and details of running such a busy event!

I know there were additional helpers this weekend – and  I don’t want to leave anyone out, we so appreciate ALL of you!  Thank you! Thank you!  Thank you! You are what make this event incredible – just ask the carvers – I think they understand best the amount of work, planning and generosity required to make a successful competition.

Thank you so much to Chris and Liane Crosta who took great photos of the event – please enjoy their slideshow below!

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Two of the Crew! Photo by Liane Crosta

Two of the Crew! Photo by Liane Crosta

To the carvers – Ben, Chris, Derrick, Jeff, and Rob – THANK YOU for being a part of our 9th Annual Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition!  You guys are AMAZING, and we are thrilled to host you and your families!  We are so fortunate to have your masterpieces become a part of our Seldovia Community!  To Chris and Jeff, who took a chance – and flew all the way from Washington and Oregon to be a part of this small community event!  We hope you have enjoyed your time in Seldovia, and that you could feel our appreciation and enjoy the small-town hospitality and exceptional working environment!!   Isn’t this the MOST BEAUTIFUL setting for a competition you’ve ever seen?  We hope that you will consider competing in our event in the future and bringing your families!

Thank you to our Judges for the competition this  year:  Jeremiah Campbell, Toby and Elaine Craft, Alan Haskins, Ed Packer and Brian Slover – we appreciate your time and expertise in the area of art, beauty and/or wood working!
Start of the Mini Marathon - photo by Chris Crosta

Start of the Mini Marathon – photo by Chris Crosta

chips button-2This year we added two extra “events” to the weekend to raise funds for our competition!  The first was the daily auctions, with gifts from local businesses – which was fantastic, and the generous winners got some great deals while supporting the competition!  Then we had our 1st Annual Seldovia End of Summer Mini Marathon!   Thanks again to Tobben for helping in a HUGE way to make the race a success.  We were impressed with the turn out for the End of Summer Mini Marathon, as we had 22 participants – mostly from Jen and Keith’s wedding party!
  • In the women’s division, Naomi Gallien came in first place, with Jennifer Giles (Swick) in second, and Cola Lewis bringing up 3rd place.
  • In the men’s category, Jeff Swick took 1st, Bryan Chartier with 2nd and Keith Swick came in 3rd.
  • In the Senior division, Ed Packer took 1st place, and Margie and Byron McCord came in tied for 2nd.
  • There was only one runner for the 10K this year – so Lars Spurkland won 1st place (that was easy!) – but I have to mention that he didn’t come in last overall  due to the double distance - he crossed the finish line before 9 of the 5K competitors!  Great job Lars!
  • We did have a Red Lantern Award – which honors the last person to cross the finish line – and that went to Crystal and Courtney Collier!

 

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Here we are in the summer of 2014 – and we are gearing up for our competition in Seldovia over Labor Day Weekend!   We have confirmed most of our carvers, and are finalizing a few of the exciting details of the upcoming competition.

The 2014 Master Carvers

Ben Firth – Anchor Point, Alaska

Chris Foltz – North Bend, Oregon

Derrick Stanton – Kenai, Alaska

Jeff Samudosky – Gig Harbor, Washington

Rob Younkins – Anchorage, Alaska

We are excited to announce the Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition dates for 2014!   Here is the tentative schedule of events for that weekend! And – did you see these AMAZING logs we have for the competition this year?

Seldovia’s Schedule for the Labor Day Weekend

Thursday, August 28, 2014
5:00pm Welcome Dinner with Carving Committee
7:00pm Log Drawing and Carvers begin prepping logs
7:15pm Site Prep – Debarking and scaffolding Set up – NO CARVING TONIGHT
9:00pm Clean up

Friday, August 29, 2014
7:30am Carver’s Meeting at the Site
8:00am Carving Time – Starting horn at 8am promptly
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Carving Time
5:00pm Quick Carve #1
5:00pm Silent Auction #1 Opens
5:00-9:00pm Registration for the Mini Marathon (5K and 10K) race at the Competition Site
6:00pm Dinner
7:00pm Carving Time
9:00pm Silent Auction #1 Closes
10:00pm Quit Carving & Clean up
9:00-11:00pm – 907 Band – Live Music at the Linwood

Saturday, August 30, 2014
8:00am Carving Time
8:00-10:00am – Mini Marathon FINAL Registration
10:00am – Mini Marathon (5 or 10K) – Start time!
12:00pm Mini Marathon Awards
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Quick Carve #2
1:00pm Silent Auction #2 Opens
4:00pm Saws off for 1/2 hour wedding
4:00pm Silent Auction #2 Closes
6:00pm Dinner
7:00pm Carving Time
10:00pm Quit Carving & Clean up
7:00pm  Guitar Masters Concert - SBE
9:00-11:00pm 907 Band – Live Music at the Linwood

Sunday, August 31, 2014
8:00am Carving Time
8:00am Silent Auction #3 Opens
1:00pm Quit Carving & Clean up – Judging Begins
1:00pm Community Potluck Lunch on Site
2:00pm Silent Auction #3 Closes
3:00pm Award Ceremony

As you can see from the projected schedule to above, it is going to be a busy weekend!  Carvers will have over 25 hours of carving time to create their amazing masterpiece carvings, while being fed, lodged and well cared for in Seldovia by our wonderful community of volunteers and generous donors!  If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the competition, please call or email Jenny Chissus 234-8000 or email: Jenny@Seldovia.com to procure a Sponsor packet of information!

THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING SPONSORS
WHO ARE MAKING THIS 2014 SELDOVIA CHAMBER EVENT POSSIBLE!

The list is growing – can we add your name?

Platinum Sponsor
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Gold Sponsors
Hopkins Bros.
Swisher Family

Silver Sponsors
AeroTech09Alaska Air Taxi
City of Seldovia LogoElitewoodCabinets1
SFA Logo
SPLogo
Winter Watch Logo

Bronze Sponsors
Alaska Marine Highway System
Linwood Bar and Grill
Seldovia Native Association Inc.
Seldovia Village Tribe
Spenard Builders Supply

Support Sponsors
Alaska Airlines
Alaska USA
Bear Creek Winery
Boardwalk Hotel
Bridgekeeper’s Inn
Captain’s Coffee
Central Charters
Central Suites
Crabpot Grocery
Dancing Eagles
Mike & Nicola Holman
Homer Electric Association
Homer Brewery
Indian Valley Meats
Kachemak Gear Shed
Perry’s Cafe
Dick & Sammie Reason
Mike Sage
Smokey Bay Air
Stranik Family
Tobben & Tania Spurkland
Thyme on the Boardwalk

Chainsaw Carving Committee/Help
Sonny & Jenny Chissus
Chris & Liane Crosta
Byron & Margie McCord
Mike Webber

 

Please visit our Facebook Page to view 2013′s Competition photos!

The Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition has a Facebook Page! Please click here - or on the image below to go directly to our new page – click like and please share with folks you know who love our annual competition in Seldovia!

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The Seldovia Craft Invitational Chainsaw Competition is Moving to Labor Day Weekend!

Here we are in 2013 – and there’s change on the horizon for the Chainsaw Carving Competition for Seldovia!  For a variety of reasons, and after careful consideration, we have moved our competition for 2013 from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend! We are excited about the new dates, as we are hopeful for warmer weather, beautiful green lush summer surroundings and a fabulous end to the summer season with an extraordinary event!

There will be new carvers, favorite alumni carvers, at least one celebrity and opportunities for participation by the public! We have exciting plans coming together – and we will be announcing the details soon – right here – on Seldovia.com – so please stay tuned!

If you have experience carving, and would like to be considered for an invitation to our event, please contact Jenny Chissus with the Chainsaw Carving Committee at 907-234-8000 for more information and an application.

Seldovia Chainsaw Carving Exhibition 2012

120628 Chainsaw MagicEnjoy this great combination of photos – from beginning to end – almost like you were there!  You can click here or on the image to the left to open the link for the large photo story!  Another great feature of this format is that once you click on the image – you can click on any photo in the layout and it will open a slide show format, and you can view all the photos at your own pace in full size! (Depending on the size of your screen, some of the text on the left side may not be visible – but the “whole” story and more is below!  Also, please note that there are many photos, and it may take a few minutes to load, depending on your Internet speed.)

This Memorial Day chainsaw competition was a little different from the previous years.  Due to a myriad of scheduling conflicts (a move out-of-state, opening a new gallery, moving a shop/workshop across town, building a home, etc.) many carvers weren’t able to make it to our event this year.

We were thankful that three great carvers joined us this summer, Ben & Silas Firth (2nd year), Jimmy Kitchens & Carisa Curtis (5th year) and Rob Younkins & Deveyn LaCroix (3rd year)!

Due to the small participant size, we modified the event to be an exhibition, rather than a competition.  We also changed it up a bit, as we offered to give the three masterpiece carvings to the carvers this year to keep or sell as they please.  Over the past 6 years,  the Chamber has kept the carvings – which are displayed at businesses all about town – over 34 of them!

This year, the People’s Choice Award went to Rob Younkins and Deveyn LaCroix for the swimming otters around the piling – named “The Pole Dance”!  Rob has a great sense of humor!  This carving you can still see in Seldovia – located at the home on the corner of Main Street and Illiamna Street.  The breeching whale was also purchased by a local Seldovian who lives on MacDonald Spit.  Unfortunately, the standing bear moved to the other side of the bay.

The carvers had a great time in spite of the rather chilly weather!  Many spectators would come by (in spite of the cooler days) a few times a day to check on the progress of the carvings, take pictures and admire the beauty being created from our local spruce!

This event has brought many visitors to town, and helped to create a “Kick Off” weekend of events for Seldovia, with the Human Powered Fishing Derby, a concert sponsored by the Seldovia Arts Council, and a Start of Summer SVT Community BBQ at Outside Beach!

Thank you to all the wonderful folks and businesses who support the event annually through a myriad of services and goods!

Thanks to the City of Seldovia who offered the site and helped with the set up of the logs.  Jim Hopkins who donated logs, moved logs and is an all-around helpful guy!  To Mike Webber and Sonny Chissus who maintain the site and who are on-site during the competition to assist the carvers with whatever they need!  To the Fuel & Lube who donated oil and gas for the chainsaws, and HEA who generously supplied power for the event!

Thank you so much for the generous gifting of lodging for the carvers and their families:  Jerry and Suzie Stranik with Alaska Waterfront Cabin & Suites, John and Paulie Carluccio from Central Suites B&B and Dave and Peggy Cloninger from Seldovia Fishing Adventures!  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

We also had a TON of help providing food for the weekend from the Bridgekeeper’s Inn, Chamber of Commerce, Chissus’, Crabpot, Giles, Hurleys, Linwood Grill, McCords, Perry’s Cafe, SVT & the Tidepool Cafe.

And another thanks goes to the Seldovia Village Tribe and the Seldovia Bay Ferry who provided the transportation for the carvers and assistants to and from Homer and Seldovia!

Thanks so much to any others that offered their support during the event!  If you enjoy this annual event, and would like to be a part of the 2013 Chainsaw Carving Competition Committee, please give Sonny or Jenny a call (234-8000) as we would love to have some new folks assisting with next year’s competition!

Editor’s Note:  There was a noticeable difference in the amount of visitors to Seldovia this Memorial Day weekend, and I believe one major factor was that AMHS didn’t come to town for our “Opening Weekend.”  It seemed as though many folks who come to Seldovia for their start to summer, bringing vehicles, tents, bikes, etc. weren’t able to make it this year until after Memorial Day!  If this affected you in a negative way, please contact AMHS and let them know!  We certainly want to make sure we are on the schedule next year for our Memorial Day Festivities!