A golden goose

Published 6:04 pm Sunday, April 1, 2007

By Staff
The East Carolina Wildfowl Guild continues to add to its lists of firsts when it comes to its annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships.
This time, it’s the inaugural national competition for the next North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. That competition will be held at the Turnage Theaters complex Jan. 28-29, 2008, as a prelude to the next East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships, which are set for Feb. 8-10, 2008.
That’s a coup for the guild, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Washington.
The festival already attracts thousands of people to the city. A national competition of this caliber means the likelihood that even more people will show up at the festival to see the winner of the competition unveiled. The more people who show up, the more merchants and innkeepers will benefit from the festival.
The guild has a history of adding significant events to its festival lineup. Adding such events means adding more heads in beds when it comes to lodging establishments and mouths to feed at restaurants during festival time.
This year, the guild added the N.C. 2007 Junior Duck Stamp competition and the unveiling of the competition’s winner to its lineup. Last year, a regional duck-calling competition was added to the festival’s offerings. Last year, that competition was known as the Swamp Fox Regional Duck Calling Competition. This year, it was renamed the Pamlico Regional Duck Calling Competition.
In 2007, the festival added the International Wildfowl Carvers Association’s inaugural Working Decoy Carving Championship to its lineup.
The financial figures for this year’s festival aren’t in yet. But those numbers are expected to be better than last year’s figures. Last year’s festival suffered from inclement weather, but this year’s festival was blessed with good weather. It’s possible this year’s festival may have had a $200,000 effect on the local economy.
According to a study conducted for the Washington Tourism Development Authority, the 2006 festival had an economic impact of $162,240 on the local economy. That figure included $11,356 in total sales-tax revenue, with the state’s share coming in at $7,300 and the county’s totaling $4,056.
And don’t forget money raised by the sale of waterfowl stamps and prints go to a worthy cause. That money is used to help North Carolina meet its financial obligations in implementing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement with goals to restore waterfowl populations on the North American continent, according to a brochure about the waterfowl stamp competition. Since 1983, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s waterfowl fund has received $4.2 million from revenues generated by the waterfowl stamp and print program.
Without restoring waterfowl populations, there likely would no need — at some point — for the North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships. Without live waterfowl, there’s no need for decoys to entice the real birds.
And as the decoy carving competitions entice people to Washington, so will the state’s first-ever national competition for the artwork that will become the state’s 2008 waterfowl stamp.
As for the guild, the more it brings significant events to its annual festival, the more it continues to carve an excellent reputation for itself. The more that reputation grows, the more the festival grows. The more the festival grows, the more the profit margin for area merchants and innkeepers grows.
Keep that carving going.