47th Fes­ti­val: Suc­cess but fewer tick­ets

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE -

EASTON — The Wa­ter­fowl Fes­ti­val had many suc­cesses, as well as some chal­lenges, last week­end dur­ing its 47th year.

De­spite the cold tem­per­a­tures of Nov. 10 to 12, the streets of Easton were full of peo­ple of all ages en­joy­ing food, mu­sic and fall weather, mak­ing the down­town area vi­brant with ac­tiv­ity and show­cas­ing the best of an East­ern Shore fall.

Yet bustling streets are not the only mea­sure of suc­cess for the town­wide, non­profit event. This year’s of­fi­cial at­ten­dance came in at about 14,300 peo­ple, a de­crease from the past sev­eral years.

“Fes­ti­val has al­ways been about cel­e­brat­ing our com­mu­nity — through wildlife art, our sport­ing her­itage and the East­ern Shore way of life. We are very pleased to have at­tracted so many vis­i­tors to town,” said Fes­ti­val Pres­i­dent Al­bert Pritch­ett. “As an event, how­ever, tick­ets sales are also a mea­sure of our con­tin­ued suc­cess, so the re­duced num­ber of tick­ets pur­chased is some­thing we’ll be think­ing about as we plan for the fu­ture.”

The more than 50 Fes­ti­val chair­men — who vol­un­teer count­less hours and days to man­age ev­ery­thing from venues and ex­hibits to ticket sales, trans­porta­tion and se­cu­rity — were sup­ported by a group of more than 1,200 peo­ple who also gave their time to the week­end.

“The chairs and the com­mu­nity vol­un­teers are the engine that make the Fes­ti­val unique,” said Judy Knight, Fes­ti­val vol­un­teer chair­man. “We are so grate­ful to ev­ery­one who came out to make our 47th year a great suc­cess.”

The Fes­ti­val week­end kicked off with Wa­ter­fowl Ch­e­sa­peake’s Pre­miere Night Party, at­tended by more than 600 guests — in­clud­ing cor­po­rate sup­port­ers and art buy­ers — who turned out to en­joy an evening of food, cock­tails and a pre­view of the Fes­ti­val’s five down­town art gal­leries.

The “Mak­ing Way for Duck­lings” Art and De­coy Auc­tion, held that evening to ben­e­fit the Wm. A. Perry Schol­ar­ship Fund, raised more than $8,000 that will ben­e­fit lo­cal col­lege-bound stu­dents.

“We felt the evening was a great fun over­all and were very pleased with the num­ber of new peo­ple that joined the party,” said Wa­ter­fowl Ch­e­sa­peake Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Mar­garet En­loe.

The Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­va­tion Pavil­ion, spon­sored by Easton Util­i­ties, hosted 20 con­ser­va­tion ex­hibits this year, a kids’ scav­enger hunt and of­fered “Ch­e­sa­peake Snap Chats” — short talks by ex­perts that high­lighted ev­ery­thing from oys­ter restora­tion ef­forts to us­ing mos­quito-lar vae-eat­ing zoo­plank­ton for pest con­trol to changes in stu­dent ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams.

It also was the lo­ca­tion for the Fri­day morn­ing “Cof­fee and Con­ser­va­tion” break­fast, co-hosted by Wa­ter­fowl and the Tal­bot County Of­fice of Tourism and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, where more than 100 lo­cal busi­ness and con­ser­va­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives net­worked and heard about in­no­va­tive ef­forts to im­prove qual­ity of life, build busi­ness and con­ser­va­tion part­ner­ships, and ways in which “green” fi­nanc­ing can be sup­port­ive of cap­i­tal im­prove­ment projects.

In the five Fes­ti­val art gal­leries, more than 100 of the world’s finest na­ture and wildlife artists — some here for their first Fes­ti­val, some who were re­turn­ing fa­vorites — came from all over the world.

Fea­tured Artist Ju­lia Rogers had a great week­end, sell­ing “The Long Stretch” to a Fes­ti­val guest from Vir­ginia, who came specif­i­cally to buy the piece. Mas­ter Carver Richard Jones was thrilled to sell sev­eral of his unique, in­ter­pre­tive bird sculp­tures, as well, hav­ing one of his best events of the year.

If the num­ber of chil­dren play­ing is any in­di­ca­tion, fam­i­lies seemed to en­joy the more fam­ily-friendly at­mos­phere at the Easton Mid­dle School venue, which in­cluded an ex­panded food ven­dor area, a birds of prey han­dler and a hay bale maze.

Sev­eral ar­ti­sans in the Ar­ti­sans’ Crafts and Gifts there re­ported sell­ing out and seemed to en­joy the new lay­out for the venue.

The Del­marva Dock­Dogs con­tin­ued to draw spec­ta­tors, but the tem­per­a­tures meant fewer dogs made the leap into the chilly pool.

Across town, tem­per­a­tures didn’t stop the re­gional hunt­ing dogs from show­ing off their skills at the Re­triever Demon­stra­tions, though the hardy spec­ta­tors there and dur­ing the fish­ing ac­tiv­i­ties were bun­dled up tight.

The ex­panded Sports­man’s Pavil­ion fo­cused on the re­gions’ sport­ing her­itage and was a bee­hive of ac­tiv­ity all week­end. With two new tents, in­clud­ing an ad­di­tional space for duck and goose call-mak­ers, sev­eral ma­jor ven­dors com­pletely sold out of their wares.

Ac­tiv­i­ties on­site like the new Kids Goose and Duck Calling Clinic, led by cham­pi­ons from the World Wa­ter­fowl Calling Con­test, saw reg­is­tra­tion fill quickly and helped in­tro­duce at least 60 of the youngest Fes­ti­val guests to the nu­ances of duck and goose calling.

Across the street, the buy, sell, swap of­fered vis­i­tors the op­por­tu­nity to learn about the Shore’s wa­ter­fowl-re­lated her­itage by vis­it­ing with traders and col­lec­tors.

At the Harry M. Walsh ar­ti­facts ex­hibit next door, guests had the op­por­tu­nity to see mu­seum ex­hi­bi­tions and pri­vate his­toric col­lec­tions — in­clud­ing one be­long­ing to Luke Tay­lor, a 14-year-old col­lec­tor from War­saw, Va.

“The Fes­ti­val owes a great deal of thanks to our many cor­po­rate, busi­ness, pro­mo­tional and non­profit part­ners for their new or con­tin­ued sup­port this year,” Pritch­ett said. “We ab­so­lutely couldn’t do it with­out each and ev­ery one of them and the ser­vices that the town and county also pro­vide. We are par­tic­u­larly grate­ful for the fund­ing we re­ceived from the Tal­bot County Arts Coun­cil and Mary­land State Arts Coun­cil.”

The Wa­ter­fowl Fes­ti­val will be back next year from Nov. 9 to 11.

PHOTO BY DENAE SPIERING

A look down Har­ri­son Street, on Sun­day, Nov. 12, dur­ing the 47th an­nual Wa­ter­fowl Fes­ti­val.

PHOTO BY DENAE SPIERING

The Del­marva Dock­Dogs con­tin­ued to draw spec­ta­tors, but the tem­per­a­tures meant fewer dogs made the leap into the chilly pool dur­ing the 47th an­nual Wa­ter­fowl Fes­ti­val.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

“Duck­sit­ter” (youth vol­un­teer) Eve Ya­copino and Wa­ter­fowl Ch­e­sa­peake Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Mar­garet Enlo were drum­ming up sup­port by ask­ing for “Bucks for Ducks,” to ben­e­fit Wa­ter­fowl Ch­e­sa­peake’s Match Cam­paign at this year’s Wa­ter­fowl Fes­ti­val. The Match Cam­paign, with a goal of rais­ing an ad­di­tional $7,500, re­con­nects com­mu­ni­ties with con­ser­va­tion in ad­di­tion to rais­ing funds.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Luke Tay­lor, a 14-year-old col­lec­tor from War­saw, Va., was at the Harry M. Walsh ar­ti­facts ex­hibit dis­play­ing his pri­vate his­toric col­lec­tions at the Wa­ter­fowl Fes­ti­val.

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