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Festival adds more exhibitors, vendors

By Staff
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
This year’s East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships will have more exhibitors and vendors than previous festivals.
The 2007 festival runs from Feb. 9-11 in Washington. Moving decoy-carving competitions from the Peterson Building, which is adjacent to the Civic Center, to the Red Men’s Lodge on East Third Street provided an opportunity for the festival to bring in more vendors and exhibitors.
The guild organizes the festival. Gossett is show chairman. Gossett’s wife Sandra serves as exhibits and auctions chairwoman for the event.
“When the word got out that we had openings … Sandra was flooded with telephone calls asking about the potential of getting some of those spaces,” Gossett said.
This year’s festival is expected to attract 130 exhibitors and vendors, about 33 percent more vendors and exhibitors than last year’s festival drew, Gossett said.
Among those vendors and exhibitors making their first appearances at the festival will be Tom and Mary High from Alamaso, Colo. Tom High, an Indian, is a self-taught “scrimshander,” knifemaker and wildlife artist. High works in several mediums — sculpture, pen and ink, scrimshaw, oils, water color and colored pencil. He’s also a goldsmith and silversmith.
The Highs usually travel to three wildlife-related shows in the East each year. When the date for the show in Louisville, Ky., was changed, that provided the opportunity for the Highs to visit Washington. High said he learned about the festival at a previous show in Louisville.
High said he met David Gossett at the annual wildlife-arts exposition in Charleston, S.C.
High said he’s anticipating his visit to eastern North Carolina and the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships.
The artist said he learned scrimshaw when he was working in Alaska, breaking horses for a hunting guide.
Whalers, sometimes at sea for two years or longer, developed scrimshaw as a way to pass time, High said. The word “scrimshaw” appears to have come from a Dutch word that means to shirk one’s duty, he said.
With the decoy-carving competition, divided into 15 divisions, being moved to the Red Men’s Lodge, the guild hopes the change will make the competition “more public friendly,” Gossett said. The Red Men’s Lodge will allow more people to view the competition, he said.
As part of the competition, some decoys will be placed in nearby Jack’s Creek as part of the judging process, Gossett said.