When Ben Jarvi entered the Rudy Zwieg Decoy and Sporting Collectible Show last year, he was in line for the top prize for one of his wood carvings.
But, according to Barb Lundeen, one of the show's six organizers, Jarvi was disqualified at first. When Jarvi entered his wood carving in the contest, he thought it was for a wall hanging display. It wasn't. It was for a table display.
But that didn't stop him. Lundeen said Jarvi quickly went to another vendor, who had the necessarily supplies and tools needed, and he changed his display from a wall hanging to a table-top display.
And it paid off in a big way. He took first place, which included a $500 prize. The judges never even knew that his display started out not fitting the criteria, Lundeen said.
"I was so happy for him that he won. It was such a beautiful display and he went through all that work," Lundeen said. "I was just so happy."
Jarvi, who lives in the Alexandria area, is looking forward to this year's Rudy Zwieg Decoy and Sporting Collectible Show, as he will again have his wood carvings on display. The show is set for Saturday, March 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria.
What started out as a hobby has turned into a business for Jarvi as he now owns Jarvi's Decoys and Lures, which he began in 2015.
Jarvi started carving after watching a TV episode of "Minnesota Bound" on the subject and a few years later turned it into a business. He said it was in about 2011 when he took up the hobby. At first, he started out just making lures for himself for spearfishing. But then, he got into decoys and then moved on to decorative fish carvings or what he calls functional art.
Making lures is much more simple, Jarvi said, noting that it takes anywhere from one to two hours from start to finish for one of his lures. Decorative fish carvings, however, are a little more complicated and can take anywhere from 10 to 20 hours.
"The hardest thing to learn was learning how to paint them," said Jarvi. "It can be difficult to paint them to look realistic."
Learning to carve and paint fish wasn't that hard to do, Jarvi said. He watched YouTube videos and talked to others in the carving business, which helped him perfect his craft.
However, Jarvi said he is always learning and figuring out ways to do things better.
"I've always enjoyed making things and this is a hobby that is fun to do," said Jarvi, who also noted that one of the reasons he enjoys carving is because of the heritage of carving decoys. He said wood-carved fish decoys have been around a long time. In fact, Jarvi said when he started spearfishing, he was using his great-grandfather's spearfishing equipment.
"It was pretty cool using his spearing gear," said Jarvi.
Although Jarvi mainly sticks to creating wood carved fishing lures, decoys and decorative art pieces, he said he has carved turkey decoys, as well. And, he has also started creating metal artwork. All of his work can be found on his Facebook page, Jarvi's Decoys and Lures.