Tinglewood Festival draws visitors, vendors, cars, even snakes

Published 12:31 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

By NANCY WILSTACH / Special to the Reporter

MONTEVALLO – Chips flew, bands rocked and engines rumbled on a sweltering, sunny Saturday, Sept. 8, in Montevallo’s Orr Park for the first-ever Tinglewood Festival.

“A success so far,” was the early afternoon assessment by Steve Gilbert, executive director of the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce and the event’s principal organizer.

Some 3,000 people visited booths, ate the food and watched the mind-boggling work of five chainsaw carvers who produced a dozen carvings auctioned at 5 p.m. Live music followed the auction.

While carvers worked in the shade of canopies, spectators sweltered in the 90-something sun throughout the day. The sawdust in the air stuck to sweaty skin—and a number of children solved that issue by jumping into Shoal Creek.

Children joined Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama volunteers to paint their own keepsake art, play team-building games and bounce on inflatables. Children also gravitated to Dr. Bob’s Traveling Snake Show where holding a handsome king snake or a laid-back balled python provided new experiences.

Slightly older children explored the joys of whittling, supervised by the event’s namesake, Tim Tingle.  Tingle’s art draws visitors to Montevallo to see carvings that he began creating in 1993 after an ice storm had killed some cedar trees in the park.  The transformed cedars stand in an area bounded by a walking trail, a playground, a picnic pavilion and the creek—an area that has come to be called “Tinglewood.”

Among Tingle’s carvers were three Boy Scouts and Scoutmaster George Drummond from Troop 283 in Morris. “They are working on their wood-carving badge,” Drummond said.

Nearly 60 vendors set up booths around the Tinglewood perimeter just south of the creek, several of them devoted to wood crafts. From these came the “Best of Show” winner, Montevallo’s own Essie Ebrahimi, whose exotic creations are inspired by his experiences as an Iranian-American.

Not all the artists were homegrown.

Thomas Harmon and Beth Bowling came from Indianapolis, Ind. Bowling got the creek view from the shade of trees and canopy, selling her husband’s work—two- to three-foot tall wooden carvings of joyful red cardinals.

Harmon, meanwhile, worked in that noisy row of on-scene expert carvers, turning out original pieces for the Tinglewood auction.

Besides Harmon, the on-scene chainsaw artists were Heather and Justin Bailey, Calera; Corey Lancaster, Princeton, N.C.; and Dayton Scoggins, Heidelberg, Miss.

Gilbert estimated that 150 owners of classic, muscle and antique cars and trucks participated in Cars by the Creek where visitors strolled through gleaming automotive memories.

“Best in Show” went to Les Harrison, his second such award in the last three years.  Harrison’s 1963 Karmen Ghia (black with red leather upholstery) is no mid-life crisis. “I’ve owned this car for 36 years,” Harrison said.  “I got it when I was in high school.”

Glenn Peoples of Chelsea typified Tinglewood visitors.  Peoples carried a life-sized wooden banjo by Gregg Hovey of Madison, Tenn. Peoples describes himself as an “eclectic collector.”  He had his eye on another piece that he expected to buy after strolling once more around the rows of vendors’ booths.

Probably the busiest people all day were the volunteer workers who lugged ice and water to vendors or staffed a booth for a bit while the vendor took a break.