Bear Sculpting Championship rules 2023

The Bear Sculpting Championship 10th–11th August 2023

The focus of the bear sculpting championship is chainsaw sculpting and the subject is the bear. The theme for 2023 is Power Bear. The theme challenges and gives the sculptors an opportunity to be creative and innovative – nature can show its power in so many different ways.


Register for the competition by 14th of April 2023 using the form on our website. If there are any problems with registration form, contact

Selection of competitors

A maximum of 30 applicants and invitees will be invited to enter the competition. If over 30 persons apply, the Bear Festival’s competition manager with the organizer team will select the competitors. The balance between experienced and beginner level sculptors will be taken into consideration when making the selection.

By 9th of June 2023, those chosen to participate will receive a letter containing more details about matters such as the competition site, accommodation reservation and catering. Participating to the competition is free of charge. If the participant chooses to use accommodation services in Ilomantsi, the organizer will cover 100 euros per participant for accommodation expenses. Participants will be responsible for booking the accommodation themselves.

Competitors must be aged 16 or over. Applications from applicants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by written and signed parental consent.


The sculpture must be made using the block of timber provided by the organizer. The block will be about 250 cm long, and the diameter at the top at least 50 cm. Pieces can be removed from the block, and these loose parts can be joined together by glue, screws and nails. Wood preservatives can be used to treat the surface of the sculptures. This also includes coloured wood preservatives.

The materials and the working methods must not cause any harm or risk to the audience or the environment. Sculptors must remove or dispose of any surplus materials in a proper manner. The organiser will clear any sawdust and timber from the site. The surface can be finished carefully using a gas torch, though the use of open fire is prohibited.

The competitors are allowed to change their block of timber once before the start of the competition. The change is possible also during the competition if there is a defect that prevents carving.

The competitors are allowed to apply a wood protection treatment to their sculpture once the competition results have been announced.

Tools, equipment and safety

A chainsaw must be used for sculpting, and other tools that are intended or suitable for carving wood can also be used.

The competitors will bring their own tools, surface treatment materials and equipment, fuel and chain oil (eco-friendly) as well as extension cords, if necessary.

As a minimum requirement, the competitors must wear cut-resistant trousers and safety footwear, as well as hearing and eye protection. The competitors must bring their own safety equipment to the competition site.

If a sculptor does not wear the safety equipment referred to in the rules, they will be suspended from the competition until the safety equipment standards are met.

Each competitor must ensure that they are fully insured.

The sculptors must commit to working in such a manner that considers their own safety as well as that of the other competitors and the audience.

Each sculptor must sign a waiver before the competition.

The competitors are not allowed to use technical assistants during the competition.

Work schedule

Registration will take place at the competition site. Exact time and place will be informed to the participants in June 2023.

The competition will be held from 12 noon – 7 pm on Thursday, and 9 am – 4 pm on Friday.

Judging and prizes

The jury will select three best sculptures created in the two-day Bear Sculpting Championship competition based on the assessment criteria.

1st prize: EUR 1,000, 2nd prize: EUR 500, 3rd prize: EUR 300.
The panel of judges may award prizes on special grounds for a total of EUR 400.
The prize for the audience’s favourite is EUR 700.


The jury will consist of experts and representatives of arts, wood handling, the environment and local culture.

The jury will select the three best sculptures based on the assessment criteria.

The award ceremony will be held at 2.30 pm on Saturday, 12th August 2023.

Ownership of the competition sculptures

The competition sculptures will be owned by the Vaara-Karjala Cultural Association of the Association for Rural Culture and Education. Some bears will be reserved as so-called ‘sponsor bears’ for companies supporting the activities. The owner also reserves the right to auction the sculptures. The future owners will be responsible for the display, maintenance and storage of the sculptures.

The Association for Rural Culture and Education reserves the right to select sculptures for its ITE art collection.

Photographs and videos

The organizers have the right to use photographs and other recordings taken during the competition in their communications.


The competition is organized by the Association for Rural Culture and Education with its regional organisations. The competition is the main event of the Ilomantsi’s Bear Festival 2023.


Due to potential corona virus restrictions, we reserve the right to make changes to the arrangements for the sculpture competition.