ECWAF offers plenty

Published 4:29 pm Sunday, January 2, 2011

Contributing Editor

It’s back, along with DockDogs and all its other amenities.
The 16th-annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships comes to Washington for three days, Feb. 11-13. The festival is presented by the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, which is based in Washington.
The DockDogs event made its first appearance at the festival last year, proving popular with festival-goers. So much so that its been signed to appear at the festival through 2013. DockDogs competitions and demonstrations will be held at Washington’s Kugler Field this year. Kugler Field is at the corner of East Fourth and Hudnell streets.
DockDogs competitions come in three categories — leaping for distance, vertical jumps and speed (timed) retrievals.
The dog that jumps the farthest, leaps the highest or retrieves the fastest in a division wins that division.
Prize money, which comes from entry fees of about $20 to $25 per dog, is awarded to top-finishing dogs. There are professional, semi-professional and novice divisions, and area residents may enter their dogs in the competitions.
“We haven’t made any drastic, new additions this year,” said David Gossett, a guild member and the festival’s show chairman. “Sandra (Gossett’s wife and in charge of recruiting exhibitors and vendors) has several quality, new exhibitors signed up. Everything else is pretty much status quo.”
About 120 vendors and exhibitors are expected this year, he said.
“We are pretty near full with reservations for the Outdoor Market,” Gossett said Saturday during a brief interview.
The area set aside for the Outdoor Market may need to be expanded to accommodate those reserving spaces there, he said.
As far has how many people could attend the festival, Gossett said, “The crowds are completely dependent on the weather.”
While the Washington area may see good weather, other areas from which festival-goers come from may experience inclement weather, Gossett said, or Washington may experience bad weather and the other areas see good weather.
As a prelude to the festival, the guild will host the 2011 North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition at the Washington Civic Center on Jan. 31. Last year’s competition was won by Scott Storm, a resident of Freeport, Minn. This year’s winner receives $7,000.
The competition is a joint project of the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Selected entries from this year’s competition will be displayed at the preview reception for festival. At that reception, to be held Feb. 11, the top five entries will be unveiled by the Wildlife Resources Commission. The top entries will remain on display throughout the festival weekend.
The festival’s core is at the Washington 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. 12 at the Washington Yacht &Country Club, 7155 River Road.
The silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Washington Yacht &Country Club, followed by a dinner — featuring a seafood buffet and cash bar — at 6 p.m. and a live auction beginning at 7:30 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 and prepayment are required. Reservations may be made by calling (252) 946-3329.
Shuttle buses will run between the Civic Center, Red Men’s Lodge and Kugler Field on Feb. 12-13.
A one day pass to the festival is $10, with a three-day pass costing $15.
As in previous years, Washington Pediatrics is sponsoring the Kids’ Zone at this year’s festival. Kids’ Zone, which will be located by the Washington Civic Center, will feature children’s activities that include live shows and games.
Concessions will be provided throughout the weekend by the Christian Men’s Fellowship from First Christian Church in Washington. The men will provide a variety of foods, including their signature clam chowder, fresh-cut fries and cheeseburgers.
For additional information about the festival, including schedules of major events, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.
The festival includes the Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling Championships, which will be conducted during a two-day period, Feb. 12-13.
The Southern Classic 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.
The calling competitions include 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 three 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, as will be the Southern Classic Open Goose Calling Competition.
Also part of the lineup are junior-level competitions in the state duck-, state goose- and world swan-calling contests.