Festival hasa lot on tap

Published 1:00 am Sunday, February 1, 2009

By Staff
From entertainment to educational displays, events provide variety
Contributing Editor
The carvers and callers will have plenty to keep them busy during the 14th-annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships, set for Feb. 6-8 in Washington.
But the festival isn’t just for adults.
The Kids’ Zone, sponsored by Washington Pediatrics, returns to the festival. The venue, located adjacent to the Washington Civic Center, will feature children’s activities consisting of live shows and games.
On Saturday, a decoy-painting contest for children will be conducted from 9 a.m. to noon at the North Carolina Estuarium. To make a reservation and obtain information about the contest, call the Estuarium at 948-0000.
Children attending the festival will have opportunities to visit the Safari Trailer, an educational exhibit provided by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The Safari Trailer, located by the Civic Center, allows children to see, touch and hear the sounds of animals in eastern North Carolina.
The festival is presented by the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild. Admission to the festival is $8 a day, or $10 for a two-day pass.
Putting on the festival in February provides an economic boost to area businesses, many of which find this time of the year to be their slowest period when it comes to sales, Lewis said.
One of the festival’s noisier events attracts big crowds.
Throughout Saturday, the Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling Championships will be held at the west end of Stewart Parkway. The event includes the North Carolina duck-calling championship, the winner of which will represent North Carolina at the World Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, Ark., during Thanksgiving weekend this year.
Joining the festival’s events and activities is the Pamlico Regional Duck Calling Competition. That competition, formerly known as the Swamp Fox Regional Duck Calling Competition, made its first appearance at the festival two years ago. It used to be held in South Carolina. The event’s name was changed because of it being conducted in the Pamlico River watershed.
The winner of the regional event qualifies to compete in the World Championship Duck Calling Contest.
The North Carolina goose-calling and the world swan-calling competitions also are part of the festival lineup.
Delta Waterfowl will sponsor junior-level competitions in the state duck-, state goose- and world swan-calling contests.
Greg Hubbell Jr., the reigning world’s junior duck-calling champion, will return to Washington to defend his title in the North Carolina junior duck-calling championship. Hubbell, who lives in Belmont, Calif., won his world title in Stuttgart last fall. His grandparents, Nate and Karen Skipper, live in New Bern.
All the reigning champions from last year’s calling competitions will defend their titles this year, Bennett said.
Although the festival’s core is at the Civic Center, many events and activities take place in areas such as Stewart Parkway along the Pamlico River. The carving competitions will take place at the Red Men’s Lodge on East Third Street. The Wildlife Art and Decoy Auction will be held Feb. 7 at the Washington Yacht and Country Club, 7155 River Road.
The silent auction begins at 5 p.m., followed by the live auction from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. More than 100 pieces of wildlife art and decoys will be up for bids at the auction, which includes a seafood buffet. Dinner reservations may be made by calling (252) 946-9326 or 946-2897.
To help people visit the various festival venues, a shuttle-bus service will run Saturday and Sunday, making stops at the Civic Center, Red Men’s Lodge and other downtown locations. The service is free.