GRAND ISLAND — Nick Jensen revved up his chainsaw, put on his safety glasses and got to work carving a log in the Marketplace of the Nebraska State Fair on Wednesday afternoon.
Jensen, of Papa Bear Chainsaw Carvings, began his work by sawing off the top of the log, before slicing the bark off the side of it. He then carved the ears, snout and hooves of a pig for his chainsaw carving.
He used different-sized chainsaws as he worked to carve a pig out of the log.
“The big chainsaw I use has a sculptor bar on it,” Jensen said. “The other ones are just firewood-cutting chainsaws.”
As the sound of Jensen’s chainsaw echoed across the State Fairgrounds, a crowd gathered to see Jensen complete his carving.
After 30 minutes of work, Jensen finished his carving. Once he is done, he said, he sands his carvings and puts an outdoor varnish on them.
Jensen said he has done chainsaw carvings professionally for the past 19 years.
He said his father started carving “because he got tired of picking up branches in his front yard.” When his dad passed away, Jensen decided to follow in his footsteps.
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“The first year I was carving, my buddy was sawing firewood and broke his back,” Jensen said. “There was a fundraiser for him where I carved a bear. Somebody at the local pheasant club saw that and told me to come to their pheasant day. The county fair board members also saw me there and asked me to come to their county fair.”
He said this grew into doing chainsaw carvings and shows at county fairs and other events across the state, including the Nebraska State Fair. He appeared at the Nebraska State Fair when it was in Lincoln and returned to the fair, this time in Grand Island, for the first time this year.
For his logs, Jensen said, he will pick them out of his yard or have people bring them to him. He has friends who are “tree service guys” and farmers who also give him logs to use for his carvings.
He said he will carve “anything anyone can think of.”
During the State Fair, Jensen said, he will carve each of the fair’s 11 days and complete about 30 chainsaw carvings.
At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, he said, his carvings will be auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation.