In many respects, 2022 has been a year of transition for Waterfowl Festival, Inc. – from the year-end 2021 resignation of the organization’s Executive Director – to the mid-year retirement of the Executive & Development Assistant – to the July employment of a new Development Director – to the increased responsibilities by the Festival Director. Additionally, the decision to select Attraction magazine to publish the Festival’s “Official Guide”, after having previously engaged APG Media of Chesapeake to publish this important informational piece, created some new challenges but with an entirely satisfactory and exceptional result.
Notwithstanding these changes, we fully anticipate that everyone – from Board members to staff to volunteers – are up to the task of putting on one of the finest Waterfowl Festivals in recent memory. When considering the success of the Festival’s 50th Anniversary celebration, the bar has been raised and will be successfully crossed.
While traditional downtown venues for exhibiting world class art, sculpture, carving, and photography remain, we are delighted to return to Easton’s VFW facility for new and exciting exhibits. The VFW will stage a flag raising ceremony on Friday morning at 9:00 am when the Naval Academy’s Brass Quintet will perform. The Chesapeake Marketplace has been relocated to Easton’s new elementary school, affording enhanced exhibit space, parking, and ease of access. Of course, the popular “Buy, Sell, Swap” venue to include the world renown “Duck and Goose Calling Contests” remain at the Easton High School as does the ever popular “Sportsman’s Pavilion” on the Easton Elks property. Last, because Veterans Day falls on a Festival Friday, we’ve introduced a 25% off ticket price on November 11th for all veterans and active military service personnel.
Through the William A. Perry Scholarship Program, the Festival awarded $20,000.00 in scholarships to 11 students who, among their academic achievements, have provided valuable volunteer services to Waterfowl Festival, Inc. These individuals, as well as past scholarship recipients, provide current and future Festival leadership.
During the year, Waterfowl Festival, Inc. has been most fortunate in receiving several grants, such as the annual support of the Maryland State Arts Council from whom we received almost $57,000 for the support and promotion of arts in Maryland and a $100,000 grant from the Maryland Historical Trust for the continued restoration of the Waterfowl Building’s steel casement windows. Additionally, the Festival received a $10,000 grant from Preservation Maryland for application toward an extensive “Building Condition Assessment” on the Waterfowl Building and a $5,000 “Heritage Tradition” grant through the Maryland State Arts Council…thanks to the thoughtful nomination of our friends at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
One of our primary goals for the Waterfowl Building is to repurpose the facility for year-round multi-purpose use by our community’s valued not-for-profit organizations and for-profit entities. As the building is in critical need of various improvements, we were disappointed that our grant application to Maryland’s Rural Economic Development Fund for the complete reroofing of the building’s failing roof membrane was not recommended by the Economic Development Commission of Talbot County to the County Council. A setback, of course; however, it has created greater resolve and determination for our organization to impart much greater awareness to all community, county, and state agencies, on the important, if not irreplaceable attributes, that the historic/landmark Waterfowl building provides to the community and our important not-for-profit organizations.
As conservation-oriented activities represent the nucleus of our purpose, Waterfowl Festival has made a $25,000 grant commitment to a DNR/DU project at the Wellington Wildlife Management Area in Somerset County, Maryland. Waterfowl’s contribution will be applied to toward the estimated cost of $289,000 for the 2023 restoration of approximately 40 acres of wetlands habitat for migratory waterfowl, songbirds, wildlife, and flood control. When completed, we plan to offer tours of this important habitat in the Fall of 2023.
Lastly, completed within the last week of October, the Festival owes a debt of sincere thanks to long-term supporter McHale Landscape Design for donating its time, materials, and labor to replacing all landscaping at the front of the Waterfowl Building. The beautification of our landscaping will be appreciated by all residents and Festival visitors to Easton.
With the continued further support of our community leaders in Easton and Talbot County, including our sponsors and volunteers, we all look forward to an exceptional 51st Waterfowl Festival.
Ken Miller is the Board President of Waterfowl Festival.