Festival on its way

Published 11:30 pm Sunday, February 6, 2011

Contributing Editor

Some of the best wildlife art in the world may be viewed and purchased in Washington during a three-day period next weekend.
From Feb. 11 through Feb. 13, the city welcomes the 16th-annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships. The festival includes more than 150 exhibit booths that feature wildlife art, carvings, jewelry, antique decoys, pottery and more.
The decoy-carving competition, to be held at the Red Men’s Lodge, expands this year and includes new divisions.
DockDogs returns for its second year at the festival.
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.
“Registration is going excellent for this time of year,” said Neil Woolard, chairman of the local DockDogs competition.
The number of participants for the three-day event looks promising, he said.
“Talking with the DockDogs folks, we’re expecting a good turnout by the folks up north,” Woolard said.
Last year, inclement weather in areas north of North Carolina kept many people who wanted to participate in the DockDogs competition at last year’s festival from traveling to Washington, Woolard recalled.
“We’re hoping to have a few more local dogs this year. It’s not too late to enter or practice,” Woolard said.
Anyone with questions about entering the competition or wanting to find out about practice opportunities should call Woolard at 252-943-8752.
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.
Kidz Zone activities, sponsored by Washington Pediatrics, also returns to the festival.
While 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.
For more information on the festival, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.