What is the best thing about Easton? For me, it is the Waterfowl Festival. It is a time that Easton becomes an incredibly positive place. The festival is also how I discovered Easton many years ago. After seeing how much life there was in Easton, and how friendly the people were, I thought, “Maybe this would not be a bad place to live someday.”
I learned about the Waterfowl Festival through a high school friend. His advice was simple, “You really have to go,” he told me. “They got everything.” My visit that year proved my friend right. I spent two full days at the festival. It was my first in-depth exposure to artists who focused on the natural beauty of the Bay. I especially liked the decoys. Right on the spot, I decided to buy a few to take home but had not realized that the best ones cost hundreds of dollars.
I also had my very first bowl of cream of crab soup. I was hooked. Upon returning home to the Virginia suburbs, I told people to visit Easton on their way to Ocean City and to be sure to have a cup of cream of crab soap while in town, or any other place where they might find it.
More important than just discovering Easton was learning about conservation. I had read a bit about how the Bay was getting polluted and that the waterfowl were in jeopardy. That’s about all I knew. The educational exhibits at that year’s festival opened my eyes to the harm caused by modern farming, unrestricted development, and anything else that deprived birds of their habitat.
This coming weekend I will be back, strolling up and down the streets, looking at the art, sampling the food and beer, and enjoying the beauty of Easton from a distinct perspective, one where you can stop in the middle of Washington or Harrison streets, and appreciate how genuinely nice the town is.
On my agenda this year, in addition to the art, are the dock dogs and the raptors. Until I first saw dock dogs at a Waterfowl Festival a few years ago, I didn’t realize dogs can fly. (I have trouble getting 10-year-old Lucca to run, let alone fly—she won’t be entering the amateur competition this year.) The sight of highly trained, athletic dogs leaping into the air and splashing down yards away in a swimming pool somehow lifts my spirits.
I have a different emotion at the raptor exhibition—awe. It’s incredible to see hawks and owls up close. It’s also amazing that they can be trained not to simply fly away into the clouds.
The raptors are a reminder of how fortunate we are to have so many ospreys, eagles, and other birds of prey living on our creeks and rivers. The osprey are beautiful birds. I love seeing the breeding pairs and their offspring in the spring. The eagles are a special treat. They were rare when I first started coming to the Waterfowl Festival but now are quite common.
I often ask friends what their favorite part of the Waterfowl Festival is. The answer typically depends on who you are asking. When asked that question these days, I answer, “all of it.”
What do you like most about the Waterfowl festival? If you are attending this year, what are you most looking forward to seeing? I welcome hearing from you in the comments section below.
If you haven’t bought tickets yet, visit the Festival website to do so. You will also find detailed information on event times and locations.
I’ll be looking for you this weekend.
J.E. Dean is a fan of the Easton Waterfowl Festival writing on politics, government, birds, and occasionally, golden doodles.