Real wooden leg goats

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Roark Phillips carves the stump left from a pecan tree at Rock Creek Park into a sculpture of musical instruments and two goats, representing the upcoming, annual Goats, Music, and More Festival in Lewisburg. Phillips estimates several hours of work left with his chainsaw before the piece is finished in time for this year’s fest.
Tribune photo by Jay Langston

Goats, guitars carved at Rock Creek Park

If you’ve driven through Rock Creek Park recently, you’ve probably noticed some activity by the stage.

It’s not preparation for an event or a festival, it’s the creation of a work of art that hopefully lasts as long as the tree it’s being craved from.

An old pecan tree, 48 inches in diameter at the base, which stood next to the stage at Rock Creek Park, has recently been cut down, with approximately 10 feet of stump remaining.

“The pecan tree was showing signs of deterioration, plus it started leaning towards the stage,” said Lewisburg City Manager Randall Dunn.

“The city has received a grant to give the stage a facelift, so to protect the stage, it was decided to cut down the tree,” Dunn added.

That’s where Roark Phillips came in.

After the tree was topped, Dunn said, Assistant Director of Public Works Tom Mayer mentioned he had seen wood carvings by Phillips and wondered if he would be interested or even could use this type of wood as a carving.

Phillips, owner of Boots, Chaps and Chainsaws, was notified. He inspected the tree stump and accepted the offer.

Of course, the theme of his carving had to be about goats and music. He planned a design around this theme and went to work with his Stihl chainsaw.

When the Tribune talked to him while he was carving on September 21, he had transformed the pecan tree stump into 2 goats and a double bass. He plans to carve a guitar and fiddle before completion.

At that point, Phillips had put about 36 hours into the carving and figured he had about 50 more hours until he was finished.

Phillips has been carving for 11 years. He has not had any training or classes in wood carving; all is self taught. He is a journeyman lineman by trade and worked his day job until October, 2016.

“I was only 30 minutes on the job repairing the mess that Hurricane Matthew made in 2016. It didn’t take me long to realize I was growing older everyday and wanted to do what I love and that is carving. I was tired of punching a time clock so I quit and I do not regret it,” said Phillips.

“I now carve full-time and I am also part of a crew that chases natural disasters after they occur,” he said.

“Carving is a job also, but I love it,” he added. “If I die today, I will have lived a fairy tale life.”

He has carved in several different states and recently completed a wood carving of a fiddler which is on display at Athens State College in Athens, AL.

This carving is over 12 feet tall and is of a man holding a fiddle. The intricate details of his face and clothing are remarkable, as well as the fiddle. Roark’s father was the model for this carving. Sadly, he passed away before it was completed.

Phillips attends craft shows where he carves as well as displays and sells his creations. His favorite subjects to carve are bears, but he has also carved fox, owls, and many other animals. Roark and his story about carving has even been featured on Tennessee Crossroads.

So if you attend the festival, be sure to look at this unique sculpture which commemorates Goats, Music & More. If you do not make it to the festival, ride through Rock Creek Park and view this piece of art which is displayed west of the stage.

That old pecan tree was a landmark in Lewisburg, and hopefully, the work of art created from it will be as well for years to come.