Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo this weekend

The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University will host the 17th annual Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo this Saturday.

The Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo pays tribute to old decoys while encouraging the carving of new ones. The museum, located next to Schumaker Pond, provides an ideal setting for this annual celebration of waterfowling events, which are an important part of the Delmarva Peninsula’s culture and history.

Arriving before dawn, vendors will convert the museum parking lot into a festive marketplace for the Buy, Sell and Trade, which offers shoppers an eclectic mix of fine antique decoys, collectible hunting items, folk art and outdoor memorabilia.

Traditionally, vendors and collectors are excited to see what “new” treasures will be found in the marketplace. The public is encouraged to bring their antique decoys for free identification and appraisals.

With activities for every age, the Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo provides visitors a day of friendly competition and family fun. Decoy shows and competitions have been taking place for more than 100 years and have become a tradition within the American culture. Honoring these traditions, the museum holds its annual Chesapeake Challenge from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., overlooking Schumaker Pond.

During the challenge, working waterfowl decoys are judged in the water so their qualities and usefulness for hunting may be evaluated. In addition to the waterfowl decoy competition, there are separate competitions for shorebirds, woodpeckers and contemporary antique decoys.

Prior to the start of the challenge, a separate youth competition for carvers ages 17 and under takes place, with waterfowl decoys being floated and competing against one another for top honors. Competitors from Maine to California will migrate to Salisbury to participate in the challenge.

Made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Chesapeake Challenge will once again be enhanced by the Carving Out Future Decoy Makers project. Ten master carvers, representing flyways from across the United States, will each teach six students how to carve a traditional working decoy; bringing the finished decoys to be entered in the challenge. This year, the master carvers’ forum will take place prior to the start of the decoy competition and offers the public a chance to interact with the carvers as they discuss their experiences throughout the project’s duration. Students participating in the Carving Out Future Decoy Makers project range from young children to grandparents.

A variety of activities and crafts are available, free of charge, and include painting a Red Headed Woodpecker silhouette, soap carving, carving feathers using power tools while receiving instruction from a champion carver and decoy painter. Additional activities include a duck head-carving contest and numerous carving demonstrations. Concessions, including a bake sale, are available to expo attendees during show hours.

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

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