Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival celebrates 5 yearsPublished 9:08pm Friday, January 10, 2014
From the Hyde County Waterfowl Association
Hyde County Waterfowl Association (HCWA) is calling outdoor sportsmen and lovers of nature to celebrate Hyde’s waterfowl heritage at the fifth annual Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival and Banquet, to be held Jan. 17 – 19.
The association will kick off the two-and-a-half day event with a banquet on Friday, Jan. 17 at Philips Place on U.S. Highway 264 in New Holland. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour. Dinner of barbecue chicken, steamed shrimp and oyster stew will be served at 7 p.m. and an auction begins at 8 p.m. Items up for grabs include firearms, hunting supplies and local art work. Admission is $40 per person or $60 for couples and includes dinner and drinks.
The Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 – 19. Tickets are $5 per day, or $8 for a two-day pass. Held at the Mattamuskeet High School Gym on U.S. 264, this year’s event will feature a host of local, regional and national artists displaying wares such as original art work, guide service packages, hunting gear, accessories and, of course, hand-carved decoys. HCWA President Brad Gurganus extended a personal welcome to the local and out-of-town vendors, as well as the civic organizations that help make the event possible. This year, the festival is held in memory of Rolland Tooley, a Hyde native, lifelong sportsman and avid member of Hyde County Waterfowl Association.
Gurganus noted that one of the organizers’ goal of the festival is to provide fund-raising opportunities for Hyde County non-profit groups. In that spirit, local fire departments and churches will be supplying lunch beginning at 11 a.m. each day. Offerings will vary, likely due to seasonality of the meal, but concessions will be available throughout the event. Also in the spirit of community, area non-profits will set up alongside vendors, taking advantage of the chance to educate festival-goers on local causes.
When festivities begin on Saturday, so will guided tours of the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. Nature lovers will observe a plethora of tundra and wildlife in their natural setting, while under the direction of a knowledgeable tour guide that will explain locations and the area’s rich history. Tours are free and will be offered until 4 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
State, local and federal agencies have also lent continued support to the festival. This year, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will set up an interactive laser-shot simulator, allowing folks a free chance to test their shooting skills.
Gunning decoy artists will be able to register for the decoy contest from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Saturday. Judging will begin at 11 a.m., and plaques will be placed by the winning exhibits soon thereafter. Organizers are expecting a talented turnout, and spectators will be able to observe the handcrafted entries throughout the event.
Outside on the school grounds, retriever demonstrations will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday. A retriever competition will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Sunday’s agenda is packed with competitions for game-calling hopefuls and experienced retrievers, with doors opening at 9 a.m. Registration for those wishing to compete in the all-day calling competition takes place from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Signup for the retriever competition will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, with the event to be held at 3 p.m.
Now on it’s fifth year, the Hyde County Waterfowl Festival gives back to the community in numerous ways. Not only are local non-profit groups invited and welcomed to promote their causes, funds raised support waterfowl habitat and promote tourism in the area. HCWA projects include installation of wood duck nesting boxes and a visitors/civic center to further enhance ecotourism in Hyde County.
Patrons attending the Hyde County Waterfowl Festival will find something for everyone. From hands-on demonstrations, to gifts and memorabilia, exhibits at the event will reflect the area’s rich culture of waterfowl habitat and coastal bounty. For a complete schedule of events, log on to www.hydewaterfowl.com or like Hyde County Waterfowl Festival on Facebook.