Eagles, foxes and bears, oh my! Fairgoers probably weren’t expecting to see the faces of woodland animals on display at the Butler County Fair.
For the third year in a row, Chad Danczyk of Bear Hollow Wood Carvers has captivated audiences with his skill of bringing animals to life through carving.
“Everybody’s got a chainsaw laying in their garage, and they have a hard enough time running one to cut trees up,” Casey Wells, a member of the Fair Board, said. “But this guy is making beautiful art with it.”
Danczyk a native of Mosinee, Wisc., was cutting firewood outside his home one day when he simply decided to try his hand at carving.
“It didn’t look anything like a bear, but I was hooked,” Danczyk said.
Danczyk didn’t know of his hidden talent. He hasn’t taken an art class since sixth grade, and never tried his hand at being an artist until his first carving in 2011.
“It took a while to find,” Danczyk said. “I’d doodle around, sketches … but not any of this fancy stuff. “
This “fancy stuff” is now a true occupation for him and a strong source of income. Danczyk’s carvings at fairs are bought anywhere from $500 to $1,000. During summer months he travels up to Eagle River, a popular tourist destination, and watches his pieces fly out the door.
The most Danczyk ever made, he said, was a $10,000 wildlife totem pole that a man shipped out from Washington specifically for Danczyk’s carving skills.
But when it comes to the Butler County Fair, Danczyk donates all 16 of his pieces made throughout the week to be auctioned off to raise funds for the fair administration building.
In his four years on the fair board, Wells has seen Danczyk’s pieces go for extraordinary amounts to people who are wowed by his creations.
“I think (fairgoers) really think they’re neat. It’s something that they can sit on their porch … it’s a conversation piece.”
With the sound of a chainsaw cutting through the air, he also draws crowds to his stands throughout the week. Wells says he sees 30 people at a time crowded tightly on small benches to watch Danczyk’s skills.
“It draws people in and intrigues them,” Wells said. “It’s just kind of like, wow.”