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Cogelow takes best of show in carving competition

Fred Cogelow of Willmar is shown with "Beets Weedin," a sculpture in butternut of a boy with his book. The work, also shown at left, took best of show honors at the 43rd annual International Woodcarvers Congress. It was commissioned by the Friends of the Minneota Library to honor a library patron's work in the community. (Submitted photo)

WILLMAR -- Judging of the 43rd annual International Woodcarvers Congress concluded Tuesday with the announcement that Fred Cogelow of Willmar had again taken best of show honors.

"Beets Weedin," a sculpture in butternut of a boy with his book, bested 488 other entries for the top position, according to a news release from the Woodcarvers Congress,

The event is the continent's oldest and foremost general woodcarving competition and was held for the first time in Bettendorf, Iowa. Judges at this year's event were Helli Meyer of Austria, Janet Cordell of Arkansas and Vic Hood of Tennessee.

"Beets Weedin" was commissioned by the Friends of the Minneota Library for their new facility in honor of Darren Gislason, the release states. The goal was to honor Gislason's work in promoting reading and his other contributions to the community, which included starting a community garden and a meditative "reading riverwalk."

The sculpture depicts a young boy seated on a log, looking up from his open book, his place marked by the fingers of his left hand. The title for the piece, according to Mark Whillock of Woodcarving Magazine, had been stipulated by one of the donors in a phone call, which happened to come to Cogelow's studio on racing night in Willmar.

With the din from the nearby track in the background, Cogelow was uncertain of the dictation -- "Beats Sweden," "Beats Weedin'" or "Beats Readin'" were reportedly among the possibilities. Cogelow settled on a title "best suited to confusing everyone," the release states.

The Congress display opened to the public Thursday and runs through Sunday afternoon. The sculpture will also be displayed July 23-25 during Nordic Fest at the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa.