Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo, Oct. 7-8

Sep 23, 2011 05:47PM ● By Anonymous

SALISBURY, MD---The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, hosts its annual Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo Friday-Saturday, October 7-8.

The event pays tribute to old decoys and encourages the carving of new ones. The museum, located on Schumaker Pond, provides the setting for this annual celebration of waterfowling events, which are an important part of history on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Vendors for the buy, sell and trade convert the front parking lot into a festive marketplace on Friday and Saturday, offering an eclectic mix of fine antique decoys, collectible hunting items, folk art, and antique furniture. Vendors and collectors are traditionally excited to see what new gems will be brought to the sale. Many visitors bring their antique decoys for free identification and appraisals.

Friday evening from 4:30-6:30 pm is an Eastern Shore Pig Roast, held under the pond-side pavilion. Tickets are $13 and may be purchased at the museum’s gift shop. A drawing for a 50/50 raffle also takes place during the dinner.

Saturday is a day for competition and family fun. Decoy competitions have been occurring for more than 100 years and are part of the American culture. In carrying on these traditions, the museum holds the Chesapeake Challenge on Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in the backyard. During the challenge, working decoys are judged in the water so their qualities and usefulness for hunting may be evaluated. There are also competitions for shorebirds, woodpeckers and contemporary antique decoys. The youth competition (ages 16 and under) for floating decoys is judged prior to the regular decoys. Competitors come from around the country to compete for ribbons and prize money.

Again this year, the Chesapeake Challenge is enhanced by the National Endowment for the Arts project, “Carving Out Future Decoy Makers.” Sixteen master carvers, representing each of the four flyways of the United States, teach six students each how to carve a traditional working decoy and will bring the finished decoys to the challenge. There is a master carvers’ forum on Saturday morning, at which the public may hear the carvers discuss their experiences during the project. Students range from youth to grandfathers.

The “Old Birds” Antique Decoy Competition is also held on Saturday. Collectors throughout the region enter their decoys made prior to 1950 for evaluation. This contest differs from the Shootin’ Stool Competition in that the importance of the decoy is no longer its usefulness as a hunting tool, but as a collectable decoy with historical value. This year there are 10 competition categories of canvasback, offering the public a unique opportunity to compare various collectible styles of one species from around the country.

Other Saturday activities include a duck head-carving contest and a power- versus hand-carving demonstration. Children may participate in a variety of free activities and crafts including painting a chickadee silhouette and making pinecone birdfeeders, gourd houses and paper ducks.. Concessions include a chicken barbecue and bake sale.

The exhibit “Back from the Brink: Stories of Wildfowl Conservation” is in the LaMay Gallery during the expo. On the Eastern Shore of Maryland and throughout the United States, several species of birds have neared extinction as gunning practices and habitat loss have taken a toll on wildfowl populations. Over the last century, the efforts of lawmakers, birdwatchers, environmentalists, hunters, and everyday citizens have helped bring some species back from the brink. This exhibit shares stories of successful conservation efforts, attempts that came too late and what the future might hold for currently threatened species and habitats.

The museum’s Welcome Gallery showcases the “Regional Carving Series: Carroll Carvers.” Part of the ongoing Regional Carver Series, this exhibit features the works of Carroll Carvers, an active group of woodcarvers based in Westminster, MD. From items designed for practical use to imaginative flights of fancy, this exhibition allows the viewer to examine the diversity of works from a community of artists who regularly meet to share their knowledge and techniques.

Admission to the museum and event are free. For more information visit the Ward Museum Web site,, or call 410-742-4988, ext. 106.