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Whirligig woodcrafter’s legacy lives on

Gabe Farmer, Democrat Correspondent • Dec 15, 2015 at 1:59 PM

The Woodcrafter’s whirligig and yard-art business has sat just off of the square in Lebanon for three decades. 

George Payer, known in Lebanon as “the Woodcrafter,” started his namesake whirligig business more than 30 years ago while in retirement. Although he fell ill in 2006 and died in 2010, George Payer’s children continue to carry on his tradition and sell whirligigs and other yard art in the same place their father did.

Rick Payer, George’s retired son, carves frogs, cats, birds and cartoon characters out of wood in his woodworking shop during the day. From there, the whirligigs go to his sister to be painted, then to the woodcrafter’s stand to be displayed with their many other whirligig patterns. 

For those who have not seen the woodcrafter’s displays and don’t know what a whirligig is, it’s a wooden caricature with spinning parts, generally legs or wings.

Payer and his sister took the business into their own hands when their father could no longer put in the work, but to Payer, it is more of a hobby than a business. 

Payer said he will continue the tradition of the woodcrafter his father started until he can no longer do the work himself.

“I’m just going to keep doing it until I can’t, to continue what my dad did,” Rick Payer said.

Payer said between his carving and his sister’s painting, each whirligig takes about 35 to 40 minutes to create. They then sell them at their store off the square for $15 each. 

The whirligig designs include Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Tom and Jerry, Charlie Brown and what Payer said is their most popular whirligig, the cardinal. 

Payer creates special whirligigs for holidays as well, such as rabbits for Easter and Uncle Sam for the Fourth of July.

Payer also creates custom whirligigs based on photos or descriptions. He said these requests often come for beloved pets that have died.

 “It just makes you feel good when you can help someone feel better by doing something like that for them,” he said. 

Payer said these requests are often how he finds new patterns for his whirligigs.

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