Waterfowl Festival and Art of the Chesapeake

Canada geese in flight, sunset

The famous Waterfowl Festival is coming to Talbot County, Maryland this November 13-15. Centrally located in Easton, just minutes from St. Michaels and Oxford, the festival will feature wildlife art and a sportsman's expo.

Waterfowl Festival
40 S. Harrison Street, Easton, MD 21601
Phone: 410-822-4567 Fax: 410-820-9286
Contact the Waterfowl Festival for more information!

To learn more about wildlife art and art about the Chesapeake Bay of Maryland, please read the press release about "Art of the Chesapeake" and Maryland exhibits for seeing Chesapeake Bay and waterfowl art.

‘Art of the Chesapeake’ depicts
Maryland’s heritage, culture, lifestyle

BALTIMORE (October 27, 2009) – The annual Waterfowl Festival, which takes place every November in the Talbot County town of Easton, is emblematic of Maryland’s “Art of the Chesapeake.” Organizers of this year’s 39th festival, which runs November 13-15, view the festival as a vehicle for promoting wildlife conservation, wildlife art and a maritime-infused lifestyle – all of which resonate with the influence of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Maryland Tourism Office has designated “Art of the Chesapeake” as its promotional focal point for November. Resident and visitors can take home a Bay memory through the many carvings, sculptures, paintings and photographs that depict life on and around the Chesapeake Bay and are produced by some of Maryland’s talented artists.

“The Chesapeake Bay is not just the nation’s largest estuary, but defines Maryland’s heritage, culture and lifestyle,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The Bay remains one of the State’s premier tourism attractions and inspires art that residents and visitors treasure.”

Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism, said, “When you look at a wildfowl carving or at the vibrant colors in a painting of a lighthouse on the Bay at sunrise, you get a sense of what it’s like to be in Chesapeake Bay Country. She points out that Chesapeake Bay art represents “the uniqueness of Maryland – the places where visitors can see and experience the signature qualities of the Bay as manifest in its recreational opportunities and natural beauty.”

Wildfowl carving
One of the most distinctive mediums of Chesapeake Bay art is wildfowl carving. The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, is at the epicenter of this international art form. Named for the two brothers from Crisfield at the forefront of the decoy-carving tradition – Lem and Steve Ward – the museum sits on the edge of a pond that empties into the Wicomico River – one of the major tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay – and has 12,000 square feet of exhibit space.

Two galleries showcase changing exhibits of painting, sculpture and carvings by environmental artists. Other galleries spotlight the history of decoys used in hunting and decoys that represent the major flyways in the region.

The Championship Gallery at the Ward Museum has a collection of contemporary wildfowl sculpture from the museum’s permanent archives, including winning entries from the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival – held annually at the Ocean City convention center in the spring.

Other decoy collections are also available for viewing at these locations:

  • The Havre de Grace Decoy Museum has an impressive exhibit of decoy art – about 1,200 decoys and decorative carvings. It hosts an annual decoy and wildlife art festival in the spring. Havre de Grace – home of the Concord Point Lighthouse – is located on the banks of the Susquehanna River at the top of the Chesapeake Bay. Visitors can find an array of galleries in the downtown section’s arts and entertainment district.
  • The J. Millard Tawes Historical Museum (named for the former Maryland governor, a native son) is located at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, site of the annual National Hard Crab Derby. Crisfield is at the southern edge of the Eastern Shore in Somerset County. Crisfield also has a decoy exhibit, a salute to the Ward brothers.
  • St. Michaels, close to Easton and Oxford, is home of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The museum is dedicated to an historical and cultural depiction of life in this maritime region.
  • Rock Hall Museum in Kent County has a decoy exhibit that includes a replica of a decoy-carving workshop.
  • Cambridge Classics in Cambridge is a combination museum and retail store for decoy art, housed in a restored 19th-century building.
  • The Museum of Eastern Shore Life in Centreville has a small exhibit of decoys to complement its collection of artifacts that reflect daily life on this side of the Bay.
  • Back on the other side of the Bay is the Calvert Marine Museum in Southern Maryland’s Calvert County. This waterfront museum in Solomons also features an oyster-dredging boat that still cruises Solomons Harbor along the Patuxent River, and the Drum Point Lighthouse.
  • Perhaps the most unlikely place to see examples of wildfowl art is in Western Maryland’s Garrett County. One of the artists at Spruce Forest Artisan Village is Gary Yoder, a bird sculptor who won five first-place titles at the Ward World Championship event. Yoder has been the village’s carver-in-residence since 1972.

Beyond decoy art
As noted before, “Art of the Chesapeake” is more than decoy art. Galleries in Annapolis’ arts and entertainment district, for instance, offer paintings and prints of a wide spectrum of Bay-related subjects: boats, sailing, fishing, lighthouses and of course, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Annapolis is a likely source for finding Chesapeake Bay art. This colonial seaport, which is Maryland’s capital and home of the U.S. Naval Academy, is nicknamed “America’s Sailing Capital.”

Towns that have arts and entertainment districts and are located near the Bay or one of its tributaries include: Berlinand Snow Hill, (both in Worcester County); Cambridge (Dorchester County); Denton (Caroline County); and Elkton (Cecil County); Havre de Grace (Harford County); and Salisbury (Wicomico County).

The three Talbot County towns of Easton, St. Michaels and Oxford – in proximity of each other – are known for their galleries. For visitors who wish to create their own Chesapeake Bay art, through painting or photography, for instance, Tilghman Island – an authentic village on the Bay – is nearby.

Chestertown, located on the Chester River in Kent County, also offers a viable arts scene. This historic town has an annual wildlife art exhibition in the fall. It also hosts a free tour of local art studios, Oct. 31-Nov. 1 and Nov. 7-8. The schooner Sultana – a replica of a British Royal Navy vessel used as an onboard classroom for learning about the Chesapeake Bay – is docked here. Downrigging Weekend, which marks the close of Sultana’s sailing season, is Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Visitors can get an up-close look at an assembled fleet of tall ships that participate in this festival.

Other art studio tours across the state occur throughout the year, such as the annual Mountain Maryland Art Studio Tour, coordinated by the Allegany Arts Council, which runs Nov. 7-8. Plein-air festivals – events that feature juried artists painting outdoors – take place yearly in Annapolis, Easton and Western Maryland.

Baltimore, like Annapolis, is another major waterfront location for Chesapeake Bay art. Galleries in Fells Point, Federal Hill, the Inner Harbor and other neighborhoods have varied collections.

The Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum in Baltimore’s Fells Point has 5,000 square feet of gallery space, used for exhibitions and interactive learning centers, such as a boat-building workshop. Exhibits tell the story of the local African-American community and its ties to Chesapeake Bay traditions.

Also, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network – a collection of more than 160 parks, wildlife refuges, museums, sailing ships, historic sites and water trails – offers visitors myriad opportunities to experience the Bay. Many of the network’s destinations are either subjects of Chesapeake Bay art or places where visitors can view exhibitions.

Previous monthly themes

In October, the Tourism Office spotlighted opportunities for hiking and biking in the state. Previous monthly themes have focused on educa-tours – student field trips that provide learning about Maryland’s culture, history, industry and technology. The Tourism Office has also spotlighted family fun, buying local, free things to do and Maryland wine.

To receive a free Maryland travel information kit - Destination Maryland, Maryland Calendar of Events and a state highway map - by mail, call 800-719-5900. Information may also be found at www.visitmaryland.org.

About Maryland tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Maryland’s latest visitor data confirms that in 2007, the state welcomed more than 27 million visitors who generated more than $13.6 billion in visitor spending. That figure is up from $13.2 billion the previous calendar year. During 2007, the Maryland tourism industry generated more than $1.7 billion in state and local taxes and provided more than 140,000 jobs to Maryland residents.

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