Inverness, FL–The Nature Coast Carving Club, a regional wood carving group based out of Citrus County, was founded by 10 wood carvers in 1994. In the 1990s, before the Internet Era, the club was able to quickly grow its membership by word of mouth and by holding an annual show at the Citrus County Fairgrounds that showcased the talents of its members.
At its second official meeting, 18 wood carvers assembled, and within a few years, club membership easily topped over 100.
But in recent years, the Club has not only faced the challenges that comes with technology’s growing role in every day life, but a demographic challenge, as members have passed away or have become too disabled to pursue wood carving. Club Secretary, Gene “Shorty” Short, shared with the Standard that “many of our founding members were WWII veterans and [have] pass[ed] away. My son recently graduated from UF with a Marketing degree and he told me that I needed to go out on social media.”
Short has done just that, using social media as club secretary to reach out to local newspapers, display creations that members of the club have made, and share information about his club’s annual event, all with the hopes of increasing club membership.
NCCC President, Gregg Stroud, agrees. “We used to have well over 250 members in the club in 2010, 2012. We now have about 60.”
On December 2, from 9 AM to 3 PM, the NCCC will be hosting its 19th Annual Woodcarving Show & Sale at the Citrus County Fairgrounds. The event not only serves as the club’s biggest fundraiser of the year but also serves as a showcase of local wood carving and wood burning talent and a means to bolster club membership.
The NCCC is expecting to have over a hundred tables at this year’s event. Members will be showcasing and selling their handmade creations, Christmas ornaments, nativity sets, and art pieces.
Admission is $3 and is open to the public. The NCCC is planning to have door prizes, raffles, and affordable food options for those who attend. Stroud shared that his wife, Loretta Lacy, is not only the club’s treasurer but also makes an amazing chili that will be sold at the event.
Short and Stroud expect hundreds to attend next Saturday’s event based upon the turnout of previous shows.
When asked why he devotes so much time and energy to the NCCC, Short compared the club to an extended family, citing that the club rallies around each other when individual members face medical conditions or when they lose loved ones. He shared that when his wife passed away a few years ago, the club helped him through the grieving process and that it also helped him with his post traumatic stress disorder associated with his military service during the Vietnam War.
Short told the Standard that the club has members that range in age from 16 to 88, ranging in talent level from beginner to expert, donates its time and money to veterans in need, local convalescent homes, the Citrus County Library System, and the Mission in Citrus homeless shelter, and offers four weekly wood carving sessions for club members at various locations throughout Citrus County.
At the December 2nd event, two lucky veterans will be selected to receive free hand-carved canes donated by the club and its members. According to Stroud it’s not the only way the NCCC honors veterans. “We use some of our club’s funds to buy the wood to make handmade plaques for veterans.”
Stroud, who “carved a little bit in his youth” became an expert carver by attending club meetings and workshops in only 5 years time. He added, “if you can squeeze a lemon, you can carve. Take a few moments out of your day and join us [on December 2nd] and maybe you’ll pick up a talent you never knew you had.”
Yearly membership is only $15 for an individual or $20 for a couple. For more information about how to become a NCCC member, contact President, Gregg Stroud, at (352) 419-5792 or Secretary, Gene “Shorty” Short, at (352) 634-2003 or check out their website or Facebook pages by clicking on the highlighted blue links.
Submitted by Lou Newman, Publisher, on November 26, 2017 at 12:15 PM.
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