Friday, November 9

2012 Waterfowl Festival

Headed South on Washington Streer

  Arguably, the country's premier festival concentrating on waterfowl, the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland has items of interest for all.  From collectible decoys to working decoys; from retriever demonstrations to sculptures of labs; old time punt guns to the latest from Benelli, all parts of the waterfowl world are represented.

  On the Atlantic Flyway,  Easton is in the "funnel of the flyway", where ducks and geese land in the prodigious  fields of corn, milo and sorghum. Prior to the late 1950's, most birds would fly farther south to Pamlico Sound  North Carolina. Prior to widespread use of harvesting by machinery, most crops were picked by hand, leaving far fewer feed on the ground. With the advent of mechanized harvesting, combines were used to collect more bushels. More bushels in less time. More feed on the ground. You can almost hear the geese hitting the air brakes as they stopped short of Pamlico.

  This is great weekend to be in this town, where I moved six years ago.  You get to see all those friends you missed over the summer and show the visitors a progressive town, founded 65 years before Independence from King George was declared.

Town Seal

  The epicenter of the Waterfowl Festival is the old Armory building, which houses the foundation year around, but during the Festival is where most waterfowl paintings are exhibited.

The Armory; now Waterfowl Festival Inc. HQ

Closeup of the Bronze Sculpture at the Entrance to the Armory

  Below is an example of the type of photo realistic paintings that might be on display.  Interestingly, about a third of the works were of non-waterfowl, including giraffes on the Serengetti and bears fishing for salmon, with most of these wildlife artists hailing from Northern California.

Canvasbacks in Acrylic.  

  Down the street from the Armory is Albright's Gun Shop.  Albright's is one of a few fine gun shops in the area.  While it may not have the space for all the waterfowler gear, they have a fine selection of new and used guns.  Sean Mann of Sean Mann Calls is out front with a booth.  His father owned the shop before Larry Albright bought it thirty years ago, and he recounts fond memories in the shop, which sits diagonally from a town landmark, The Tidewater Inn. Mr Mann is a six time World Goose Calling Champion and his flagship call, a flute style model called the Eastern Shoreman is easy to learn and will bring in even the wariest of honkers.

Albright's Gun Shop: Happy 30th Anniverary!!

Sean Mann Working the Booth. 

  Easton High School houses the decoy and antique waterfowl gear vendors, as well as the Goose and Duck Calling competions.  In addition, there are displays which have artifacts from the market gunning days and gunning clubs, from the Susquehanna Flats, at the top of the Chesapeake Bay to the mouth of the Chesapeake near Norfolk.

Decoys for Sale or Trade

One of Dozens of Tables of Old and New Decoys
    In a local park, the Sportman's Pavilion was set up. The tent housed about two dozen vendors who had everything from calls, to new blind setups.  Outside was the Dock Dogs area, where dogs were being measured on the longest jump inot a pool of water. This was a huge draw for the kids.

  In additon, there were some boat manufacturers, including Bankes Boats from Canada, who had two models out.  The Pumpkinseed model below, would be towed out to an open water rig as a layout boat. Made of hand laid fiberglass, it is a stable platform with a lot of room inside, including shelves for ammo, lunch etc.  It was 10' in length and could also be brushed up as a blind. Also on display was one of Bankes Open Water Duck Boats.

Bankes 10' Pumpkinseed

Bankes 17' Freedom

Super Gator!!

  The Waterfowl Festival is one of a few events every year, which helps to bring in tourism into a county that has a 40% poverty rate.  While that is not as high as other rural areas, every $ helps out those in this beautiful part of the Mid-Atlantic.

A Banner Hangs Over a Busy Sidewalk Scene