DENVER – Randy “Red” Bemont has been a wood craftsman for most of his adult life – but he almost never had the opportunity to pursue his dream.
In 1988, Bemont was diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer often caused by long-term exposure to sunlight. A year later, a second cancerous growth appeared. Now retired and running his hobby shop, Papa Red’s Woodworks, with his wife, Donna, Bemont said he’s grateful to still be alive.
“It was bad,” said Bemont. “They only gave me a 30 percent chance of surviving it the first time around, and I did. I’m a lucky guy.”
Racing to woodworking
Bemont began his career as a heavy equipment operator for a construction company for a decade. In the 1990s he ran his own custom furniture shop in Connecticut for another 10 years before moving to Huntersville when he landed a job with Michael Waltrip Racing, a NASCAR cup series race team.
“NAPA Auto Parts was our big sponsor at the time, so I’d interact with their executives a lot,” Bemont said about his time with the race team that has since dissolved. “I’d also give tours to race fans who visited, and sold sheet metal from some of the used race cars.”
Seven years later, the couple moved to a log home with a woodworking shop nestled in the mountains of Nebo. Shortly after the move in 2015, Papa Red’s Woodworks began, which allowed Bemont to get back to his passion for making beautiful items out of wood for others to enjoy.
Planks with a ‘pop of color’
Bemont makes all of his products, including charcuterie boards, cutting boards and beer flights from black walnut and curly maple hardwoods to make them more durable. He said he uses exotic woods from west African to add a “pop of color” to some of the boards.
“I just cut strips of wood and glue them together after I find a pattern that I like,” Bemont said, noting that each board usually takes three to four hours to make. “Some are quicker, and some take a little bit longer.”
After three years at the Denver Farmers Market, customers who aren’t from the area have purchased many of his kitchen necessities – especially the increasingly popular beer flights – to take home, Bemont said.
“People come here to visit their families from all over the country, and they pick up a board, puit in their suitcase and take it home,” said Bemont. “Now I’ve got boards in Washington, Oregon and Arizona. It’s a really unique gift.”
Want to go?
The Denver Farmers Market is located at the parking lot of Denver Baptist Church, 6917 Forest Hills Drive, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
For more information about Papa Red’s Woodworks, visit the booth’s Facebook page.