Wildlife festival helping keep wheels on Washington economy

Published 2:17 am Saturday, February 7, 2009

By Staff
The East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships is just ducky.
Yes, almost everyone likes ducks.
They’re colorful, with vaguely bizarre body parts, such as beaks and webbed feet, that delight small children.
And they are helping keep the wheels on Washington’s economy, which is not an easy task these days.
Of course, the festival also gives people something to do and adds a bright spot of vibrancy to our downtown.
And it’s great that decoy carving is being preserved as an art form. The niche art fits well with Washington’s love of creative pursuits, and consumers seem to love it, too. And the festival highlights other arts, such as swan calling.
Thousands of people will come to town this weekend for the festival. Most of those people will spend money in the area — money that helps local businesses make it through one of the slowest times of the year.
That money will enter the economy in a host of ways. Some will buy meals at local restaurants, or take rooms at an area motel.
Others will buy gas or a souvenir to take with them.
Some folks will likely combine two objectives, and make a side trip to Bath. And others will get a look at our town and plan to return when the weather’s a bit warmer, maybe for a Music in the Streets evening.
The rest of the year, events such as Music in the Streets and Smoke on the Water serve as major economic draws, channeling tourists who might otherwise head to New Bern or Greenville.
But when the weather turns cold and the fields are brown, it can be difficult to convince people that this is where they should spend their time. Fortunately, our weekend weather is supposed to be warmer than it has been lately, so that’s encouraging.
Another reason the festival is so popular has to do with the traditional cold-weather draw — waterfowl hunting.
Hunting in this region has long been a major financial engine. Hunters and bird watchers still come to the area to see huge numbers of birds.
So, thank you festival organizers for this chance to show off our pretty town.