September-October 2016 | PRESERVING HISTORY




The 46th annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton celebrates life east of the Chesapeake Bay and promises to reel in attendees from all over the U.S.

Nearly 300 years of regional history and art come to life for three days from November 11-13 during the Waterfowl Festival in Easton. A tidewater time capsule, the festival is a cornerstone of discovery as visitors from near and far explore Talbot County’s many charms.

Celebrating its 46th year, the annual event offering a glimpse at life east of the Chesapeake Bay attracts nearly 20,000 people to the area. Festival Vice President Kathy Dawkins, a 25-year volunteer, has helped execute the county’s largest community event used to fund Bay conservation projects.

“The festival celebrates a way of life here,” said Dawkins. “It is dedicated to the area’s hunting tradition and grew out of a need to preserve and protect our piece of the Atlantic flyway.”

As a nonprofit organization focused on supporting wildlife preservation, Waterfowl Festival, Inc. has a simple festival strategy: “capture the true romance and excitement engendered by the area’s wild birds and the hunting sport they create.”

Set to take place during the peak of autumn, what could be more romantic than a three-day art-and-outdoor-living immersion captivating an entire town?

Having donated more than $6 million to Chesapeake Bay preservation, the event has delivered on that mission. With what began as a handful of exhibits, the festival has grown into an illustrious attraction drawing artists from as far away as Idaho. The festival, regarded as one of the finest waterfowl and nature art shows in the country, named local sculptor David Turner this year’s Featured Artist. 

As such, Turner created a signature sculpture exclusively for the festival. The diamondback terrapin (Maryland’s state reptile) was chosen as the subject for Turner’s piece “Tidewater Terrapin.” The native reptile is a large part of the area’s ecosystem and tabbed by Turner for its habitat in the tidal marshes along Maryland’s shoreline. These tidal marshes are also home to countless other species, including blue crabs, otters, ducks and a variety of fish, and serves as a buffer between the Bay waters and land preventing shoreline erosion during high tides and storms — another nod to the event’s preservation roots.

The Waterfowl Festival is also admired for its savoir-faire, as local cuisines, wine tastings and pop-up art tents celebrate a saltwater lifestyle with a little more panache. As in years past, the wine pavilion and craft-brew pub will feature samplings from local wineries and breweries before the unofficial “waterfowl crawl” at night. 

As diverse as the Bay inhabitants the festival raises funds to protect, the three-day event has a flavor for every taste. Each year, the festival features crowd favorites, including retriever demonstrations, a dock-dog competition and World Champion duck calling and goose calling. More than a dozen exhibit sites, featuring 100 exhibitors, are on display, as well as cooking demos and kids’ art activities.

The best way to participate in the festival, according to Hawkins, is to buy a ticket. The $15 ticket is valid for all three days and helps to further the event’s conservation mission to create, restore and conserve waterfowl habitat in the Chesapeake Bay region.



There are no comments. Be the first to post a comment.