Montevallo hosts successful 5th annual Tinglewood Festival

Published 11:54 am Monday, September 11, 2023

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MONTEVALLO – More than 30 years ago, Montevallo resident Tim Tingle began carving faces into the trees of Orr Park. Now, 30 years later, the city has celebrated its fifth annual Tinglewood Festival with a successful event on Saturday, Sept. 9 paying homage to some of the top woodworking artists in the country.

“I didn’t get permission,” Tingle said. “I just came here to start carving faces on trees, and I’d sneak out before they could find out who it was.”

Tingle began his carvings after a faithful ice storm struck Alabama in 1993. The blizzard, now referred to as the “Storm of the Century” and the “‘93 Superstorm”, rained snow and ice down on Alabama for more than 12 hours and caused millions of dollars in property damage and numerous fatalities.

 It also severely damaged many of the trees in Orr Park, leaving many of its trees half-dead. That’s when Tingle became inspired to start carving into the dead portions of the still-living cedar trees.

“I did six of them before I got caught,” Tingle said. “When I got caught, I figured, ‘Well, they’re probably gonna prosecute me’, so I went home, locked the door, and waited for the police to come to dig me out. But then someone from city hall called and said, ‘Mr. Tingle, we realize you didn’t have permission to hack on our trees, but we’ve decided not to prosecute you because everyone on the city council seems to like your work.’”

Montevallo’s city council then officially sanctioned Tingle’s wood carvings, but on the condition that he only carve into trees that were already dead in Orr Park. 

Tingle noted that the City Council probably expected him to grow bored with the carving now that he was allowed to do it, but Tingle just kept on doing his art. But it was not until the dawn of the internet that things took an interesting turn.

“When the internet kicked in pictures of my tree carvings started going all around the world, people from all over the country were stopping into this part to check them out,” Tingle said. “It got so popular that the town had to start making modifications and improvements. They had another city council meeting and said, ‘Look, Mr. Tingle, we got to compensate you in some way. You’ve done so much to improve things in the park, we’ve got to compensate for it.’ Instead of paying me though, they changed the name of this section of trees along the creek here to Tinglewood.”

Shortly after renaming the section of the park to “Tinglewood” the Montevallo Arts Collaborative pitched the idea of holding an all-woodworking art show, and the Tinglewood Art Festival was born.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, the Tinglewood Art Festival returned for its fifth annual show. Artists from across the country came together to sell wood carvings, bowls, birdhouses and many other items. 

There were several exhibitions including a wood whittling contest and a chainsaw carving live demonstration. The festival has also branched off to include a car and tractor show, live music and refreshments. 

Tim Tingle is still a major fixture of the event and manned his own artist stand selling dozens of carefully crafted wood carvings to tourists.

“I love this event,” Tim’s Daughter-in-law Ashly Tingle said. “We have a great turnout every year. We have so many different things for people to enjoy. It’s always just a great family time.”