AUGUSTA — Twenty-six veterans from all four branches of the military will be honored today when Maine first lady Ann LePage and others present them with eagle canes carved by craftsmen and women from across the state.

Personalizing the canes for each veteran, the carvers also put a little bit of themselves into each cane, all of which feature an eagle’s head on top, said Andy Rice, one of the organizers of the Downeast Woodcarving & Wildlife Art Show at the Augusta Armory.

“We never mail them,” Rice said. “Each cane is hand-delivered.”

The Eagle Cane Project started in 2004 in Oklahoma and has since spread to more than 30 states. The program came to Maine in 2008, when Marcia Berkall, a member of the Maine Wood Carvers Association, agreed to be project coordinator. She said carvers of all abilities offer to participate.

“The most important thing is it’s done with heart,” she said.

The canes were on display Saturday as part of the 26th annual wood carvers show. More than a dozen carvers from around the state sold or displayed their wares, which included duck hunting decoys, carvings of Major League Baseball stadiums, a boat-building scene, chain saw carving and Native American-themed works of art.

Featured carver Paul Beers, of Gardiner, has been honing his skills for 30 years. His waterfowl carvings filled a large table at the show, with his use of cypress giving his work a distinct look.

He said anybody can take up carving, although it does help to have any eye for symmetry.

“The desire has to be there,” he said. “Anybody can learn the mechanics.”

Rice said the show brings multiple chapters of the wood carvers club together each year. The displays this year ranged from “wildlife to whimsical,” and he hopes people make connections to keep the hobby alive.

“We offer a fellowship of people mentoring other people to preserve the art of carving,” he said.

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