Whittlers bring wares to Fort Madison's SpoonFest

Weekend exhibit in Central Park supplements Love Lee County Tour.


FORT MADISON – With a steady crowd meandering through Central Park Saturday, several woodworking men took to some hand tools to create wooden spoons during SpoonFest 2024.
The festival featured a local band playing in the bandshell, a snowcone vendor, some breakfast burritos and tacos ,and some wooden wares on Saturday and Sunday in downtown Fort Madison.
Doug Gatton of the Drunk’in Spoon in Bonaparte was quite frank in saying he learned to carve the spoons mostly by watching YouTube videos.
Gatton sells his wares at festivals and then exclusively at the Waterfront Place Antiques along the Des Moines River in Bonaparte.
“I started doing this about seven years ago,” Gatton said. “And honestly, I started by watching YouTube videos and told myself, “You can do that.”
Gatton did his work with a wooden carriage-type mechanism that held a  half log in place with a clamp that he worked with his legs and feet. He then used a drawknife, or pullknife, to start stripping the log of the outer wood.
After he had the wood to a certain circumference, Gatton would switch carving knives and whittling tools to get the shape of the spoon before using “scoop” knives to hollow out the spoon shape
All in Gatton said he has about $500 in tools not including the axe he uses to cut the log from the stump that sat on the ground next to him.
The polished wares then were displayed on the vendor table and hung around the canopy in the park for sale to those finding their way into downtown. Some made a stop at the park as part of the Love Lee County Tour that was also underway Friday and Saturday in Lee County.
John Weyer, of Sperry, had another wooden spoon display and exhibit at the park. Weyer said he’s been carving spoons for close to five decades and said the market has always been good
“I’ll sell everything I make. I sell at Old Thresher’s and at Spoonfests and other festivals around the area. I’ll be at the Snake Alley Art Fair next week,” he said.
Weyer made a career in construction and said the woodworking was always something nice to have in the down time when construction was slow. He also sells the woodworking tools at his exhibits after compiling on strong inventory from what began as just a hobby.
“I’ve always had an interest in whittling and then it just progressed from there,” he said.
This was the second year in a row that the Fort Madison Arts Association has sponsored the event.

Fort Madison, Spoonfest, Central Park, The Drunk'In Spoon, Doug Gatton, John Weyer, woodcarving, whittling, spoons, art, Fort Madison Arts Association, Pen City Current, spotlight, news,


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