Make it a Waterfowl Festival Weekend!Posted on: October 25, 2018 By: FHMD
Depending on who you talk to, some may say the Waterfowl Festival (November 9th, 10th, and 11th) in Easton, Maryland is for fine art, while others will tell you it’s the best place to learn about traditional Eastern Shore heritage, and a hunting buddy might tell you it’s the place to pick up the latest and greatest hunting gear. It truly does have something for everyone and is a great fall weekend trip for the whole family!
Historic downtown Easton is where you’ll see all the fine art with the term “art” being used broadly. There is flat art you’ll need to stare at for a while to catch all the detail; sculptures that show emotion of the animals they depict; and carvings that will make you look a few times to believe they are actually made of wood. Some pieces are traditional and reminiscent of the first festival in 1971, while others lean toward modern art, such as this year’s 46-foot tall Featured Art Piece titled “the Lovers” by Canadian sculptor Eric Tardif.
Three galleries, Art at the Avalon, Art at the Pavilion, and Art at the Armory will incorporate both flat art and sculpture. Art at the Museum houses intricate carvings as well as top-notch photographers that have captured a mix of once-in-a-lifetime shots and pictures of places you’ve probably set foot, or taken a boat ride to, in your lifetime.
If all the artwork inspires you to want to try your own hand at painting, be sure to check out the Wine and Watercolor class on Friday night with Hillary Parker at the Academy Art Museum.
After browsing all the art, browse all the food! Carefully selected by the Waterfowl Commission, several local non-profit organizations either cook up or partner up with a caterer to produce all kinds of Eastern Shore favorites like cream of crab soup, crab cakes, and of course, oysters every which way! No matter your choice, you are sure to be telling the folks back home about at least one thing you ate over the weekend.
With some food in your belly, stop in the Tasting Pavilion. After purchasing a wristband, you’ll get a souvenir glass to sample from local wineries and breweries like Eastern Shore Brewing and RAR, as well as taste local goodies like olive oil, chocolate and more. It serves as a great meeting spot and many say it’s where an unofficial homecoming happens.
Also downtown is Conservation at the Church, hosted by Waterfowl Chesapeake, the Festival’s “sister” organization which acts as a community-focused funder, connector and convener in support of waterfowl conservation. Non-profits from the Delmarva region are there to educate and interact with visitors about their projects and goals, and the Chesapeake Film Festival will also share some of their Chesapeake-based films on Saturday. You’ll also get to learn about some of the Community in Conservation projects mini-grants funded from last year’s Festival, and learn about the projects selected for this year.
If you’ve covered downtown or the kids are ready for some activities of their own, hop the free shuttle bus to Easton Middle School and the Chesapeake Marketplace exhibit, where there’s fun inside and out. Outside there’s plenty of room for kids to run and jump on hay bales, get an up close look at some birds of prey, food trucks, and vendors. Inside you’ll find working carvers and all sorts of perfect, one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list… and yourself.
Check out the Marketplace’s schedule to see which children’s activities will be there during your visit, as there’s everything from soap carving with the Ward Museum of Waterfowl Art, miniature decoy painting, Bay-themed story times including Priscilla Cummings of the “Chadwick the Crab” series, and even the Chesapeake Mermaid will swim in for a visit! Behind the middle school are the very popular Dock Dog Competitions as furry performers strive for high jumps, distance jumps, and more.
Another great kid-friendly shuttle stop is the Bay Street Ponds, where you’ll find a free fishing derby, fly fishing demonstrations, and more talented pups doing retriever demonstration.
Next, head to the Sporting Section, starting with some heritage at Easton High School. The Artifacts Exhibit is a unique opportunity to see collections from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and private collectors. Always carefully curated and different year after year, you’ll not only see the pieces, but learn the role they played in fishing and hunting in Maryland.
Also in the high school is the Buy, Sell, Swap exhibit, the Festival’s oldest and largest exhibit. Dealers have a variety of heritage decoys, oyster tins, and other antiques and striking a deal for a treasure is encouraged! You’ll also get a chance to see the Federal Duck stamp artist Scot Strom make his first appearance as winner for the 2018-2019 year. Make sure to also see the Fishmobile in the parking lot for an opportunity to touch some real-life Bay critters, as well as an in-flight demonstration of birds of prey.
Across the street is the Sportsman’s Pavilion at the Easton Elks Lodge, which gets bigger and bigger every year! There you’ll find top brands in gear, callmakers and outfitters coming with their new products and show specials. Between sponsor tents from Molly’s Place Sporting Goods and Yeti & Aqua Pools, make sure you empty out your piggy bank and check the couch cushions to get yourself ready for the season.
On the other side of the spectrum, see some of the best callers in the nation at the World Waterfowl Calling Championship Contests as they do their best “live” calling. No routines here as contestants do their best to imitate a goose or duck you’d hear in the wild. After Preliminaries on Friday, Champions are announced Saturday evening, after an always-close contest.
Newly named Champions will head across the street for the Sportsman’s Party on Saturday night where you can get a no-fuss meal with some Eastern Shore fixin’s, listen to some live music, and tempt Lady Luck with raffles.
Whether you make it a day trip or a weekend trip, grab your tickets, good for all three days of the Festival, for $15 until Halloween, and going up to $20 on November 1. While there are visitors, exhibitors, and volunteers that have been at all 47 festivals, this is your chance to join us for the 48th to see all that sporting heritage and tradition have to offer – with a side of soft shell crab sandwich.
To see all the Waterfowl Festival, historic Easton, and Maryland’s Eastern Shore have to offer, make it a fall weekend getaway! As you travel to and from the Festival, be sure to use the Chesapeake Scenic Byway for a gorgeous drive. Accommodations ranging from large resorts to quaint bed and breakfasts are all available in the area. To learn more about accommodations, dining, shopping and things to do in Easton and Talbot County, we invite you to visit the Talbot County Tourism Website and check out these special hotel packages.
Wades Point Inn
Enjoy your Waterfowl Festival with a stay at Wades Point Inn surrounded by geese bobbing on the water and chattering in the fields. Located just outside Historic St Michaels and an easy 20-minute drive to the festival.
- $189.00 /night with 10% off each additional night. Accommodations for 2 includes breakfast and 2 general admission tickets to the festival.
For information and reservations: www.wadespoint.com
Wylder Hotel Fall Bonfire Package:
The Eastern Shore is beautiful in the fall! Cozy up to our Wylder Fall Bonfire Package – get ALL THIS when you ask for the FALL BONFIRE PACKAGE now until Dec. 31st.
- Room Upgrade based on availability
- Bottle of House Wine on arrival
- S’mores Kit with Hot Cocoa for fire pit
- Complimentary breakfast for two per room
- Late Checkout until 2:00 pm
For information and reservations: www.wylderhoteltilghmanisland.com
Tidewater Inn’s Waterfowl Kick Off Package:
Come in to Easton early at take advantage of the Tidewater Inn’s Waterfowl Kick Off Package!
Enjoy the first couple days of the Waterfowl Festival and stay as a part of our Waterfowl Kickoff Package. The Waterfowl Premiere Party begins on Thursday, November 8th with Exhibits and Galleries opening at 10:00 am on Friday, November 9th.
- Overnight Accommodations
- Welcome Drinks for Two in Hunters’ Tavern
- Complimentary Luggage Storage upon arrival and/or departure.
- Valid only on November 7th and 8th only.
- Subject to Package Terms & Conditions
For information and reservations: www.tidewaterinn.com
Sandaway Suites & Beach
Situated on 2 and 1/2 acres with stunning views and a private sandy beach, Sandaway Suites & Beach will be offering a package for Waterfowl Festival. Stay 2 nights and get one night free. Breakfast basket delivered to your door. Complimentary late check out of 1pm. Walk to nearby restaurants! Call 888 726 3292 and we will personally take your reservation. Family Owned 45 years!
For information and reservations: www.sandaway.com
This post was written by Leslie Milby and the Waterfowl Festival
Images courtesy of the author