Now in its third year, Millers Rustic Sawmill’s annual Sawdust Fest has become a must-see event. Attendees can take in various demonstrations and shop with regional artisans. And trust us, you do not want to miss the belt sander race.

Millers Rustic Sawmill’s annual Sawdust Fest will feature demonstrations from artisans from around the state, including a chainsaw artist, luthier, knifemaker, carver, scrollsaw artist, potter, blacksmith and fiber artist.

By Natalie-Elizabeth Tan

Wood you like to know more about how everyday timber products are made? Looking to do something special for your husband, dad, or grandpa? If so, we’ve got the perfect Father’s Day weekend lined up for you: Just head to Millers Rustic Sawmill’s third annual Sawdust Fest on June 14 and 15 in King City, Missouri, about an hour and a half north of Kansas City. 

Sawdust Fest, which draws people from as far as Minnesota and Alabama, aims to celebrate the artisans behind wood products. You might not think about it much, but some seriously impressive craftsmanship comes into play when a slab of wood is handcrafted into a beautiful item, be it an intricate wooden statue or funky charcuterie board. And the Fest is the perfect place to witness some of that action.

Visitors to Sawdust Fest in King City are invited to shop with regional artisans such as this chainsaw artist.

Sawdust Fest kicks off on a Friday with make-and-take wood projects and a ticketed VIP dinner with live entertainment from the Hontz family. On Saturday, the festival is free and open to the public, where there will be something for everyone—yes, even those of you who don’t know anything about woodwork.

There will be demonstrations from a chainsaw artist, luthier, knifemaker, carver, scrollsaw artist, potter, blacksmith, and fiber artist, all of whom hail from various parts of the state. You will also get the chance to witness a sawmill in operation. 

“[It] is a great thing to showcase the process of how the wood is prepared from log form to what becomes usable, ready-to-finish, live edge wood products,” says Melissa Miller, organizer and co-owner of Millers Rustic Sawmill. “The sawmill guys will demonstrate how a log gets turned into the beautiful raw slabs of wood we offer for sale in our brick-and-mortar shop.” In the shop, you’ll also get to see over fifteen native Missouri wood species.

One of the most common tools used in woodwork is the belt sander, essential for smoothing and shaping wood. It’s used to finish and shape pretty much every wood product you see, so being able to do this well can be said to be an indicator of a woodworker’s skill. With that said, there’s a belt sander race at this festival. “The belt sander race is something to see if you haven’t seen that before … We plug in belt sanders and race them down a track for a friendly competition,” Miller says.

Two belt sanders vie for first place in a belt sander race.

Wood aside, there’s lots to do. Paint some pottery, pose for old-time photos, kick back to live entertainment in the historic Lucile Theater, watch or participate in a beard contest, and stroll around the local stores which will be open for shopping and whiskey tasting. If you’re an early bird, The Rusty Coffee Pot even hosts a trail ride called Eat My Dust.

Basically, there’s only one thing you absolutely must do at the event, and it’s to have fun. “We want visitors to feel as though they have stepped back in time to a slower pace of life that makes for an enjoyable day among friends and family,” Melissa says. So, try branching out at the Sawdust Fest this Father’s Day weekend!

Photos courtesy of Chelsea Kollitz and Amanda Wilson.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.