Festival could break record for attendance

Published 5:20 am Sunday, February 10, 2008

By Staff
Southern Classic draws record number of callers
Contributing Editor
This weekend’s East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships could set an attendance record.
The festival, organized and presented by the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, is in its 13th year. It resumes today at 9 a.m., concluding at 4 p.m.
Each of the festival’s venues in Washington reported high numbers of visitors. Over the past 13 years, about 4,000 people attended the festival each year, according to guild officials.
Gossett was particularly happy with the number of people visiting downtown shops and merchants on Saturday. He was disappointed his wife, Sandra, could not be downtown to see the large number of visitors. She serves as the festival’s exhibits chairwoman. She is recuperating from surgery. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in December.
Russell Smith, owner of Russell’s Men’s Shop in downtown Washington, said foot traffic in his store Saturday was up significantly when compared to other Saturdays during this time of the year.
Shawn Bennett, chairman of the Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling Championships, said there was a good chance those competitions would not end until dark Saturday. Usually, the calling contests are completed by no later than 3 p.m.
This year, the Southern Classic was formatted to promote the following four championships:
The Southern Classic also included an open goose-calling competition, open to any contestant regardless of age or gender.
The Southern Classic’s youth events included the junior duck-calling, junior goose-calling and junior swan-calling competitions.
The festival kicked of Friday night with a reception and unveiling of the 2008 North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. Scot Storm, who won the inaugural nationwide competition, lives in Freeport, Minn.. Storm, who attended the unveiling, was presented a $7,000 check and a $300 travel allowance.
Cary Savage-Ingram, a wildlife artist who’s exhibited her work at each of the 13 festivals, won the best-in-show award. She lives in Greer, S.C. She also took the top prize in the mixed-medium division.
Washington resident Pat Holscher won the blue ribbon in the watercolor division. Robert Tolley, who lives in Cambridge, Md., took the top prize in the oil division. The blue ribbon in the acrylic division went to Janet Hong of Chesapeake, Va.