Last weekend was the Driftless Spoon Gathering in La Farge, WI. It’s organised by the Driftless Folk School and was the first US spoon gathering I attended back in 2015. I couldn’t make it last year, so it was great to be able to attend this year.
We’re kind of lucky the event was able to go ahead at all. Just a few weeks earlier La Farge was hit hard by flooding. Parts of the village were 10 feet underwater. By the time we arrived La Farge seemed to have recovered well enough for the local school kids to ‘TP’ several houses during homecoming, which fell on the same weekend as the Gathering.
As usual, I carpooled there with Derek. We had planned a couple of camp meals together with Tom Dengler and Fred Livesay. I brought along pork kebabs, Derek had a couple of breakfast hashes planned. Pretty much everything tastes better cooked over a fire while camping.
The event itself is pretty chill. As the name suggests, it’s a gathering. We spoon carvers gather and carve spoons. This year’s turnout was fairly small, perhaps 20 or so people. Most people had at least some experience in spoon carving. Terry Beck, one of the organisers of the event, was doing a great job of making sure newbies got at least some instruction.
I had a lot of fun with some of the people new to the craft. I managed to convince the Driftless Folk School’s new admin hire to carve her first spoon. I showed a 7 year old how to hollow out a spoon and was impressed by how well they took to the task. A family of three were all carving in unison, having just learned how to safely perform some new knife grips.
I met lots of fantastic people at the Gathering. Most I’d met before at previous gatherings. Or we’d interacted online. I finally met Daniel Marcou face-to-face. He interviewed me for his website last year. He also brought some fabulous cherry crooks along to the Gathering. I nabbed a couple and spent most of the weekend working on them.
I also got a chance to chat with Greg Nelson. Our paths had crossed previously, but I didn’t get much of a chance to paw through examples of his work. Greg carves fantastic eating spoons. I highly recommend you check his work out. I bought one of his spoons and so far have used it daily.
These gatherings are always a lot of fun. If you’re into spoon carving you already know that it’s mostly a solo activity. The peaceful nature of sitting alone, slowly shaping wood into a useful utensil is an aspect that draws many to the craft. Explaining the joy of spoon carving to the uninitiated can be difficult. So hanging out with so many people that already get it and are as willing as you to nerd out over wood types, spoon designs and mouth feel is a great pleasure.