Welding Rodeo

Wrangling scrap into sculpture



WHAT: 14th annual Welding Rodeo
WHEN: 8am-5pm Fri., May 15 and 8am-5:30pm Sat., May 16
WHERE: Bellingham Technical College, 3028 Lindbergh Ave.
COST: Entry is free

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.

More Visual...
Heavy Metal
From sparks to sculpture

A passion for extended guitar solos and amplified distortion won’t be a requirement for those attending a couple of metal-focused exhibits on display in Bellingham through the month. Instead, all that’s needed is the capacity to appreciate what happens when heat and sparks help welders…

more »
Verdant Valley
Enchanted in Edison

One of the most refreshing exhibits in the Skagit Valley is the combined show of artwork by Kathleen Faulkner and Ann Morris at Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison. Faulkner’s work, often seen here during the past 10 years, has achieved a high level of beauty and significance in her recent…

more »
Happy Accidents
A date with history

Sheri Wright swears she didn’t initially make the connection that the exhibit of painter Katherine Eva Houlahan’s works showing as part of an occasional “Women Artists of the Northwest” series at Fourth Corner Frames and Gallery would be on display during Women’s History Month.

“I guess…

more »
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Artist Workshop

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Dig Into Spring

6:00pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Avian Research

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Poetry Trio

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Books and Brews

7:00pm|Village Books

Village Books
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Nonprofit Brown Bag

11:30am|St. Luke's Health Education Center

Hidden in Plain Sight

4:00pm|Mt. Baker High School

Dahlias Discussion

4:00pm|Blaine Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Fellowship of Fire

6:30pm|Everson Library

Art Talk with Wade Marlow

7:00pm|Dakota Gallery

Jared Hall Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Foghorn Stringband

7:00pm|YWCA Ballroom

Village Books Trove Web
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


Smart Business Summit

12:00pm|Pioneer Park Pavilion

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Exploring Equity

2:00pm|Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center

Happy Hour Thursdays

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Walk on the Wild Side Series

5:30pm|Firehouse Arts & Events Center

Monthly Wine Tasting

5:30pm|Old World Deli

Time Capsule Reception

6:00pm|Skagit County Historical Museum

Pub Run

6:00pm|BBay Running


6:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Check out WA Discover Pass Backpack Program

6:30pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

House Concert with Carolyn Cruso

7:30pm|Chuckanut Center

Dyo Festival Finale

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Bos2 The Hunts