Easton’s Waterfowl Festival: Tradition, Fun
Come rain or come shine, Easton, Md.’s annual Waterfowl Festival is on the horizon, Nov. 8 to 10. A regional tradition that dates back more than 40 years, the Waterfowl Festival is an ode to the natural history, untamed beauty and landmark conservation efforts of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, featuring our favorite animals in its surrounding ecosystem.
Sportsmen and art connoisseurs alike will find something to admire at this festival, founded by an ambitious local community who envisioned an event that would share with visitors the unique heritage of the Eastern Shore they so treasure. The festival also helps to preserve the ecosystem, raising funds to protect the wildlife and habitats that are integral to the area’s way of life. The nonprofit organization, which initially raised just a few thousand dollars a year, now totals more than $5 million in conservation grants to hundreds of projects by more then fifty organizations. The festival’s new conservation arm, Waterfowl Chesapeake, was founded in 2011 to further enhance the organization’s ability to support waterfowl and the environment.
This event captures the true romance and excitement of the area’s wild birds, while tipping a hat to the sport they create that has so long intoxicated hunters and birdwatchers. From decoy exchanges to art exhibits, and from a children’s fishing derby to wildlife photography classes, Easton’s Waterfowl Festival truly has something for everyone.
SPORTING, HUNTING, CALLING AND TASTING
Each November, proud duck and goose callers from across the country and Canada journey to Easton to vie for the coveted title of “master caller.” At the Festival’s annual Calling Contest, men and women perform their best calls in front of more than 600 spectators. One of the most popular festival events is the Retriever Demonstrations. The Retriever Demonstrations are entertaining and impressive, as these skilled canines show off by leaping into the pond to fetch a thrown or hidden dummy. You don’t have to be a hunter to appreciate the intelligence demonstrated by the retrievers and the training skills of their handlers. Another canine-crazed event is the Dock Dogs Competition, where the stands fill quickly to watch dog after dog race down a dock to splash into a pool of water. The competition measures which dog remains airborne the farthest or highest.
The Wine, Beer and Tasting Pavilion will host an array of local food and beverage vendors, offering a true taste of the region. From locally brewed craft beer to famous Maryland crabs, it is the perfect pit stop amidst the veritable flurry of Festival activity. Tastings are free after a $10 entry fee, and drinks may be purchased separately by the glass or bottle to take home.
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY
During the festival, a series of galleries and exhibits will be open throughout the day, featuring art and artists devoted to the local waterfowl culture. One of the original Waterfowl Festival galleries, the Art at the Armory Painting Gallery presents an array of exceptional artists offering a variety of work encompassing a wide range of subject matter, style and price. In addition to waterfowl, wildlife and sporting art, the artists present landscape, floral and maritime scenes, both as original paintings and prints.
The Artists Gallery and Workshop, hosted by Easton Elementary School, allows visitors the rare opportunity to see artists at work, demonstrating the techniques and skill required to create the artwork so admired in its finished form. Working artisans are willing and eager to discuss their work and tricks of the trade, from carving to painting and photography techniques. Demonstrations throughout the day make this exhibit a delight for many and an educational must for all aspiring young artists. There is also a myriad of special programming throughout the weekend, from classes and demonstrations to competitions and performances. For children and families, the art activities at Easton Elementary School feature carving and miniature painting classes. There are also beginning and advanced digital photography workshops with photographer Will Hershberger, as well as a pastel painting workshop hosted by renowned wildlife and landscape artist Clive Tyler.
The Buy, Sell, Swap event at Easton High School is a popular festival staple, getting collectors together to haggle and bargain with their wares. This traders’ bazaar focuses on decoys, hunting and sporting memorabilia, sporting books and much more, with prices ranging from pocket change to the thousands of dollars. Whether a dedicated collector, first time buyer, or browser, any visitor will find something of interest.
There is all this and more at the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Md. So, brush up your duck calls, shape up your pups and get on out there.
For more information, visit www.WaterFowlFestival.org.