The 5th annual Echo Chain Saw Carving Championship is returning to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico October 2-4 to carve for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of New Mexico. And there’s a new twist. This year, the championship pits the highly competitive Echo Carving Team members against the clock and each other.
Mike Bihlmaier (Marengo, Ill.); Mark Colp (Lakeport, Calif.); Jason Emmons (Branchville, Ind.); and Bob King (Edgewood, Wash.) have appeared as members of Echo’s national carving team since 2005 when Echo first formed the team. The company started the Echo Carving Series and Championship the same year.
This year’s championship showcases the Echo team members to see who will be judged as the superior carver. The four professional carvers will compete for cash prizes and the prestigious Echo Carving Cup. They have 22 hours to produce masterpiece sculptures under the theme: “The Great American Southwest.”
On Sunday, Oct. 4, the sculptures will be judged and then auctioned, with proceeds benefiting the Make-a-Wish Foundation of New Mexico. The foundation grants “wishes” to children who have life-threatening medical conditions. Last year’s auction raised $34,700 for the foundation, granting wishes to seven children.
The competition in Albuquerque should be intense. King has won the championship three years in a row. Colp has competed in all of the first four championships, while Mike Bihlmaier has competed in two championships and Jason Emmons one. You can follow the team as the tension ramps up at www.echo-usa.com/carvingcontest or on the team’s Facebook page. You may reach the team’s page via the Championship link on the Echo Web site.
The Balloon Fiesta remains a perfect visual venue for the championship. With 700 participating balloons, Balloon Fiesta is the largest ballooning event in the world, the most photographed event on earth and the largest annual international event held in the United States. More than 400,000 visitors are expected during the event’s opening weekend October 3 and 4 while the Echo Carving Championship is taking place. Visit www.balloonfiesta.com for more details.