Visual

Welding Rodeo

Wrangling scrap into sculpture

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Typically, rodeos focus on the domination of one species over another—whether it’s cowboys wrangling half-ton steers or bucking broncos successfully upending the two-legged homo sapiens who are trying to stay put in their saddles.

At the Bellingham Technical College’s (BTC) annual “Welding Rodeo,” however, it’s strictly human versus metal.

While it’s true that some of the concepts are similar—for example, both types of rodeos are designed to test the skill and speed of their competitors, each requires a certain amount of protective gear, and prizes are bestowed upon the victors—the end results of each hoedown soon make it clear that these events couldn’t be more different.

Creativity is the key to what separates one from the other. Over the past 14 years, as the “Welding Rodeo” has morphed from a small event designed to highlight BTC’s welding program and the campus itself into a two-day artistic extravaganza, the gathering has grown in both size and focus.

This year’s event, which takes place May 15-16 on the BTC campus, may be its most ambitious yet.

The action begins early Friday morning, when the blowing of a loud horn signals to the four-person teams of competitors from Bellingham and around Washington state that it’s time to sprint to an enormous pile of donated scrap metal and choose the materials that will complete their visions for the chosen “Fire and Ice” theme. For the next eight hours—with amateurs on Friday, and pros on Saturday—the teams will toil in their dedicated outdoor work stations to transform the hunks of steel into finished works of art that will be sold to the highest bidders at two separate auctions.

The “Fire and Ice” element of the creative competition is crucial. If the participants don’t actively incorporate the theme—and find something interesting to do with the 300-pound blocks of ice each team will be asked to use—they won’t qualify.

Seeing how these sculptures come together is the biggest draw for the members of the public who come to the “Welding Rodeo” to watch the welders wrangle their visions into being, but more and more activities have been added over the years that make the experience an interactive one, as well.

Among those offerings are an individual skills challenge for welders of all ages and skill levels; a chance for high school students to perform one free skill (additional skills are $5, and pre-registration is encouraged); and a public hands-on welding booth that will feature experienced student welders guiding you through the process of creating your own weld.

But that’s not all—not by a long shot. In addition to providing information about other Bellingham Technical College programs and professional opportunities in related industries, there’ll also be wood-carving demos by Whidbey Island artist Jessi Stack, blacksmith demos by Bob Thomas of Sunset Forge and other trade professionals, and a chance to watch an American Culinary Federation-sanctioned “Culinary Competition” taking place during the same time as the “Welding Rodeo.”

To go along with the aforementioned “Fire and Ice” theme, the food-focused event will also include an ice-carving competition—so instead of watching sparks fly, you’ll be watching carvers create works of art with blocks of frozen water. Any way you look at it, it’s not your typical day at the rodeo.

Smoking Crow
More Visual...
Natural Light
Springtime in the greenhouse

One of the favorite attractions of tulip season is the springtime art show at the River Gallery near La Conner. Drive south past the vibrant fields of flowers, turn west on Dodge Valley Road, then left onto Landing Road. Here the work of 39 artists is displayed perfectly in a converted…

more »
American Fiction
A plea for conservation at MONA

To visit “American Fiction,” the new installation at La Conner’s Museum of Northwest Art, is to enter Robert McCauley’s vivid imagination. This harvest of 27 years worth of work reveals first-rate wildlife portraiture and a moving plea for conservation.

McCauley grew up on the…

more »
RARE
The art of recycling

Unbeknownst to you, your friendly neighborhood artist could also be a fierce eco-warrior.

Those creative types will be much easier to spot during the sixth annual “Recycled Arts Resource Expo” (RARE), a two-day event helmed by Allied Arts that takes place at a variety of venues in…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Open House Garden Party

12:00pm|Bakerview Road

Hir

7:30pm|DUG Theater

Community Action Poverty Simulations

6:00pm|Cornwall Church

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am| Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Kimono Reception

1:00pm|Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Race to Alaska

6:30pm|Firehouse PAC

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Skagit Jazz Night

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Adrian Legg

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

Legends and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Trove Web
Tomorrow
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Hir

7:30pm|DUG Theater

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

Legends and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Plant Society Field Trip

8:30am|Veder Mountain

3 Cs Plant Sale

9:00am|3 Cs Farms

Earth Day Planting

9:00am|NSEA Nursery

Ferndale City Wide Cleanup

9:00am|Downtown Ferndale

Planting Day

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Fun with the Fuzz

9:00am|Bellingham Police Department

FutureFest

9:30am|Port Transit Shed Event Center

Bellingham Bay Bocce Tournament

9:30am|Bellingham Sportsplex

Earth Day Celebration

10:00am|Edgewater Park

Voting, the Heart of Democracy

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Ponds and Water Features

10:00am|Blaine Library

Community Art Museum Day

10:00am|Whatcom Museum

Arch of Healing Installation Ceremony

10:30am| Bellingham City Hall

Veggie Gardening 101

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Healthy Kids Day

2:00pm|Bellingham YMCA

Poetry Circle

3:00pm|Deming Library

Roller Betties Bout

5:00pm|Whatcom Community College

Winterhouse

6:00pm|Village Books

Speakeasy 21

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Rainbow Alliance Drag Show

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Who will wear the crown?

7:00pm

Blackthorn Band

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Nepal Trek Talk

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Songs from the Universe

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Brigid Collins Benefit Concert

8:00pm|Walton Theatre

Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Sunday
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

3 Cs Plant Sale

9:00am|3 Cs Farms

FutureFest

9:30am|Port Transit Shed Event Center

Dirty Dan Harris Festival

10:00am|Fairhaven Village Green

Earth Day Work Party

11:00am|Viva Farms

Pottery Demos

12:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Choo Choo Soul

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Utopia Earth Day

1:00pm|Utopian Conservation Area

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Chuckanut Chili Cook-off

1:30pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Rambling Unicorn

3:00pm|Everson Library

Seeing Pink

4:00pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Crowder

7:00pm|Performing Arts Center Mainstage

Pink Martini

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Take Me to Church

8:00pm|Rumors Cabaret

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web Village Books