Waterfowl Festival Wraps Up Its 47th Year

Waterfowl Festival had many successes as well as some challenges during its 47th year. Despite the cold temperatures, the streets of Easton were full of people of all ages enjoying food, music and fall weather, making the downtown area vibrant with activity and showcasing the best of an Eastern Shore fall. Yet bustling streets are not the only measure of success for the town-wide, non-profit event; this year’s official attendance came in at approximately 14,300 people, a decrease from the last several years.

“Festival has always been about celebrating our community – through wildlife art, our sporting heritage, and the Eastern Shore way of life. We are very pleased to have attracted so many visitors to town,” says Festival President Albert Pritchett. “As an event, however, tickets sales are also a measure of our continued success, so the reduced number of tickets purchased is something we’ll be thinking about as we plan for the future.”

The more than fifty Festival Chairman – who volunteer countless hours and days to manage everything from venues and exhibits to ticket sales, transportation and security – were supported by a veritable army of more than 1,200 people who also gave their time to the weekend. “The Chairs and the community volunteers are the engine that make the Festival unique,” says Judy Knight, Festival Volunteer Chair, who is a volunteer herself. “We are so grateful to everyone who came out to make our 47th year a great success!”

The Festival weekend kicked off with Waterfowl Chesapeake’s Premiere Night Party, attended by more than 600 guests – including corporate supporters and art buyers – who turned out to enjoy an evening of food, cocktails and a preview of the Festival’s five downtown art galleries. The “Making Way for Ducklings” Art and Decoy Auction, held that evening to benefit the Wm. A. Perry Scholarship Fund, successfully raised more than $8,000 that will benefit local college-bound students. “We felt the evening was a great fun overall and were very pleased with the number of new people that joined the party,” said Waterfowl Chesapeake Executive Director Margaret Enloe.

The Chesapeake Conservation Pavilion, sponsored by Easton Utilities, hosted twenty conservation exhibits this year, a kids’ scavenger hunt and offered “Chesapeake Snap Chats” – short talks by experts that highlighted everything from oyster restoration efforts to using mosquito-larvae-eating zooplankton for pest control to changes in student education programs. It was also the location for the Friday morning “Coffee & Conservation” breakfast, co-hosted by Waterfowl and the Talbot County Office of Tourism and Economic Development, where more than 100 local business and conservation representatives networked and heard about innovative efforts to improve quality of life, build business and conservation partnerships and ways in which ‘green’ financing can be supportive of capital improvement projects.

In the five Festival Art Galleries, more than 110 of the world’s finest nature and wildlife artists – some here for their first Festival, some who were returning favorites – came from all over the world. Featured Artist Julia Rogers had a great weekend, selling “The Long Stretch” to a Festival guest from Virginia, who came specifically to purchase the piece. Master Carver Richard Jones was thrilled to sell several of his unique, interpretive bird sculptures as well, having one of his best events of the year.

If the number of children playing is any indication, families certainly seemed to enjoy the more family-friendly atmosphere at Easton Middle School venue which included an expanded food vendor area, a birds-of-prey handler and a hay bale maze. Several artisans in the Artisans’ Crafts and Gifts there reported selling out and seemed to enjoy the new layout for the venue. The ever-popular Delmarva DockDogs® continued to draw spectators but the temperatures meant fewer dogs made the leap into the chilly pool. Across town, temperatures didn’t stop our regional hunting dogs from showing off their skills at the Retriever Demonstrations, though the hardy spectators there and during the fishing activities were bundled up tight.

The expanded Sportsman’s Pavilion focused on the regions’ sporting heritage was a beehive of activity all weekend. With two new tents, including an additional space for duck and goose call-makers, several major vendors completely sold out of their wares. Activities onsite like the new Kids Goose & Duck Calling Clinic, led by champions from the World Waterfowl Calling Contest, saw registration fill quickly and helped introduce at least sixty of the youngest Festival guests to the nuances of duck and goose calling. Across the street, the Buy, Sell, Swap offered visitors the opportunity to learn about the Shore’s waterfowl-related heritage by visiting with traders and collectors. At the Harry M. Walsh Artifacts Exhibit next door guests had the singular opportunity to see museum exhibitions and private historic collections – including one belonging to a young, 13-year-old collector.

“The Festival owes a great deal of thanks to our many corporate, business, promotional and non-profit partners for their new or continued support this year,” says Pritchett. “We absolutely couldn’t do it without each and every one of them and the services that the town and county also provide. We are particularly grateful for the funding we received from the Talbot County Arts Council and Maryland State Arts Council.”

Waterfowl Festival will be back next year on the second weekend in November, the 9th – 11th, 2018.

Unique Work by Local Artist Revealed as 2017 Waterfowl Festival Signature Piece

The 47th Annual Waterfowl Festival is proud to reveal this year’s signature work of art, The Long Stretch, created by its 2017 Featured Artist Julia Rogers.

Rogers, a local Eastern Shore painter, is an acclaimed wildlife artist at the local, regional and national level. She says, “When you see the place you live through an artist’s vision, it inspires you and renews your love of the beauty that is here and your commitment to conserving it.”

The 2017 featured piece spotlights an elegant, white Tundra Swan spreading its massive wings in the morning light. Rogers use of light and color reflecting off the water gives the painting action and depth, particularly against the backdrop of a Chesapeake Bay marsh teaming with geese and other black-billed Tundra Swans. “I love the color opportunities when painting white subjects,” Rogers explains. “The back lighting was so dramatic and the shadows created so many shades of blue. I also wanted to conjure up the rush of wings and the haunting sounds of the swan’s call.”

A Waterfowl Festival artist for many years, Rogers was honored to be chosen to create this year’s signature piece. She has been highlighted in the prestigious annual “Birds in Art Exhibition” at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, where her work has been purchased for their selective permanent collection. She is a regular exhibitor at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, South Carolina and also attends other wildlife art shows across the country. Rogers is also a member and serves on the Board of the Society of Animal Artists and regularly exhibits in their annual show.

“I was so inspired by Julia’s vision and the final painting,” commented Margaret Enloe, Waterfowl Chesapeake Executive Director. “The Long Stretch perfectly captures the vibrancy of one of our most beautiful winter water birds and, for me, perfectly uses movement, light and detail to subtly show the interconnectedness of our ecosystem. We are honored to have this as our 2017 Featured Art piece.”

The painting, which measures 26″x40″ and is offered at $12,000, will be formally unveiled during the Festival’s VIP Premiere Night Party on Thursday November 9, 2017. More information is available by calling 410-822-4567, visiting www.waterfowlfestival.org or emailing featuredartist@waterfowlfestival.org.

New People Bring Fresh Perspectives to Waterfowl Chesapeake and Festival

Waterfowl Chesapeake (WC), the parent organization of the annual Waterfowl Festival, is thrilled announce two new staff joining its team. 

Leslie Milby of Cordova comes on board as WC’s new Festival and Events Manager.  Milby will be coordinating and managing the annual Waterfowl Festival and helping with new events as Waterfowl Chesapeake works to expand its community and conservation outreach.

As part of a family who goose hunts together even before presents on Christmas morning, Milby is excited to be a part of an organization focused on preserving both the land and traditions of the Eastern Shore.  As a Waterfowl Festival-goer for many years, she’s excited about seeing how all the and volunteer committees bring all “nooks and crannies” together to orchestrate this big-time, small-town event.  She also is thrilled to have the chance to help build out future programs in support of local communities and waterfowl conservation.

“Our family loves strolling together around the Festival, eating oysters for breakfast and supporting our cousin in the Dock Dogs competition. When we can leave the kids at home, my husband and I come back to try the sweet and local wines in the wine tent, catch up with friends around town, and take in all the amazing paintings we’d like to buy when our kids are less expensive,” she says with a laugh. Milby and her husband, Logan, who works for Maryland Environmental Service, reside on “Puddle Jump Farm” with their children, Landon (3) and Lucy (3 months).

Milby is looking forward to working with staff and volunteers to enhance the current offerings of the Festival and its appeal to both locals and guests, as well as growing the event as it nears its 50th year in 2020. “The Festival’s exposure to the Eastern Shore lifestyle is excellent, and I always tell my friends and family that it’s a great time to come in for a visit!”

In addition, Easton resident Heather Grant has joined the staff as the part-time Waterfowl Festival Marketing Manager. In this position, Grant is responsible for the development and execution of all marketing and communication campaigns, including print and digital advertising, web development, marketing collateral, social media, and public relations relating to the Festival.

Grant, who is originally from Connecticut, has been a resident of the Eastern Shore and a Festival-goer since 2003. She has a Masters in Publication Design from the University of Baltimore and a BA in Journalism from the University of New Hampshire. With over 20 years of marketing, communications graphic and web design experience, she brings experience and talent to the WF promotional team. With social media and the web at the forefront of current marketing practices, Grant will look to increase the Festival’s presence in those realms, while continuing to work with traditional media outlets like print, TV and radio.

“I’ve been attending the Festival regularly since I moved here,” Grant explains.  “It’s the highlight of the Fall in Easton. Since the kids are off from school, we’ve enjoyed attending the retrieving and Dock Dogs competitions and just wandering around town enjoying all the Festival has to offer. When we first started coming, we used to spend a lot of time at the middle school where my father-in-law was a carving exhibitor. I really gained an appreciation for the time it took him to create his decoys and that they were truly works of art. It’s part of the fabric of the Eastern Shore and I am excited to be involved in promoting it to a new generation of fans.”

“We couldn’t be happier to find such great professionals right her in our local area who also support our community and conservation mission,” says Executive Director Margaret Enloe.

With a focus on communities, stewardship and the waterfowl-related resources and heritage on Delmarva, Waterfowl Chesapeake: connects financial resources from the Festival and environmental needs in communities, serves as a neutral convener for events, forums and discussions leading to solutions, and engages and educates communities about the benefits of healthy waterfowl populations and habitats.

Waterfowl Festival Selects Local Painter Julia Rogers as 2017 Featured Artist

The Waterfowl Festival is pleased to announce the selection of Julia Rogers as its 2017 Featured Artist.  Rogers began exhibiting at the Festival in 1979 as a high school student and has only missed a few years of exhibiting in the Festival’s painting galleries over nearly four decades.

“We are thrilled with this year’s Featured Artist selection,” said Waterfowl Festival President, Albert Pritchett. “As a resident of the Eastern Shore and long-tenured exhibitor, Julia has a unique understanding of the Festival and its impact on the local community as well as the intersection between art and conservation. It has been the Festival’s pleasure to showcase her work as it has evolved over the course of her career.”

Julia Rogers

The Waterfowl Festival is proud to announce painter, Julia Rogers, as its 2017 Featured Artist.

Rogers is the Festival’s seventh Featured Artist and the first woman chosen for this distinction.

“I am truly honored and proud to have been selected as this year’s Featured Artist, and I am especially pleased that a woman was chosen for the first time,” said Rogers.  “In wildlife and sporting art, there are not that many female artists, so it’s important and significant for women to receive recognition.”

As Featured Artist, Rogers will create an exclusive, Eastern Shore inspired painting that will be sold only at the 2017 Waterfowl Festival. The image will also be featured on this year’s Festival poster. In addition, Rogers’ exhibit at the Festival will also showcase her Eastern Shore roots and will focus on the wildlife, habitat and landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay Region.

In her youth, Rogers spent time at her family’s second home on the Miles River where she began photographing, sketching and painting the wildlife she observed while on adventures in her 8 foot sailboat.  One year while attending the Festival, her father, a regular Festival visitor and volunteer, encouraged her to submit her paintings. The following spring, Rogers presented her artwork to the Art Committee at the Festival’s offices, then located at the Tidewater Inn, for review.  Her work was accepted and she has returned ever since.

RogersEyeCatching

Painting by 2017 Waterfowl Festival Artist, Julia Rogers.

As an Easton resident, Rogers has both an artist’s and local’s view of the Festival’s marriage of art and conservation. “When you live here and go on about your life, you start to take it all for granted. So when you see the place you live through an artist’s vision, it renews your love of the beauty that is here and your commitment to conserving it.”

Rogers is a self-taught artist who is passionate about constantly evolving by attending masterclasses and workshops and seeking new inspiration both from the work of other artists and her travels.  Her earliest inspiration came from her mother, an artist, and her father’s passion for sporting and the outdoors. Into adulthood, nature and wildlife have continued to be her primary source of inspiration as she travels around the world and observes animals in their exotic habitats.

Rogers is a member and serves on the Board of the Society of Animal Artists and regularly exhibits in their annual show. She has also been featured in the prestigious Birds in Art Exhibition and had work purchased by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. She is a regular exhibitor at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston South Carolina and also attends other wildlife art shows across the country.

Rogers is married to fellow Festival Artist, Matthew Hillier, and she has three children and recently welcomed her first grandchild. She and her family enjoy frequent travel and spending time on the water in their sailboat on the Miles River.

Waterfowl Festival Inc., a partner of Waterfowl Chesapeake Inc., is dedicated to wildlife conservation, the promotion of wildlife art, and the celebration of life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  The 2017 Festival will be held in historic Easton on November 9th – 12th. General admission tickets are $15 for all three days and Premiere Night packages are also available. For more information, to volunteer, or donate, visit www.waterfowlfestival.org or call 410-822-4567.

Waterfowl Chesapeake Grants $17,500 to Pickering Creek

Waterfowl Chesapeake is pleased to announce its funding for two projects that are part of Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s “Waterfowl, Wetlands and People” initiative. The $17,500 WC grant will partially fund the creation of a wetland and meadow trail on their newly restored 17-acre freshwater wetland as well as fully fund landowner workshops.

“The ‘Waterfowl, Wetlands and People’ initiative is a perfect match for Waterfowl Chesapeake. This is one of the many types of projects that we, and our partner organization, Waterfowl Festival, are thrilled to support. The funds are raised in our community at Waterfowl Festival each year and Chesapeake then has the opportunity to reinvest them in conservation work that benefits waterfowl populations and the people on Delmarva,” said Margaret Enloe, Executive Director. “This partnership demonstrates our shared goals of connecting the public with waterfowl and educating them on what they can do to preserve and protect their habitat.”

The wetland and meadow trail project invites casual visitors to experience freshwater wetlands and the waterfowl and other wildlife in their habitat. Many of these types of freshwater wetlands occur on private property out of view of the public. The new trail will include areas for viewing waterfowl as well as interpretive panels to educate the public about the conversion of the land from farm fields to wetlands. It will be used and enjoyed by hikers and school students alike.

The second portion of funding will support landowner workshops to be presented by Pickering Creek Audubon and Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, most likely next spring. The goal for the workshops is to encourage and educate individual landowners as well as staff and volunteer leaders of local land conservancies, environmental education and other conservation and community organizations, on the restoration of large tracts of farmland to bird and wildlife habitat. During this one-day workshop, participants will receive in depth training on the value of these projects to birdlife, wildlife and water quality as well as materials and resources to share with their respective constituencies.

“We are thrilled to have Waterfowl Chesapeake as our funding partner as we enter the outreach phase of our wetlands restoration project,” said Mark Scallion, Pickering Creek Executive Director. “The financial support from Waterfowl Chesapeake will allow us to reach and educate our local community about the importance of waterfowl to our ecosystem and the large and small steps they can take to preserve their habitat.”

This is the second project Waterfowl Chesapeake has funded in 2016. Says Enloe, “We can support conservation and education in this way, in part, because of the incredible dedication of all the volunteers, sponsors and business supporters that make Waterfowl Festival possible each year. People supporting their community’s spirit, heritage and environment – it’s what it’s all about.”