A wild-life festival!

Published 1:47 am Sunday, January 22, 2012

Byron Cox adjusts a mounted deer head at the Kittrell Hill Taxidermy display at the 2007 festival. (WDN File Photo/Mike Voss)

Decoys, DockDogs and Clyde Roberson’s World-Famous Clam Chowder — oh, my!
One of Washington’s signature festivals and associated events return later this month and next month. The 17th-annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships are open to the public Feb. 11-12 in Washington. As a prelude to the festival, the 2012-2013 N.C. Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition will be conducted at the Washington Civic Center on Jan. 30.
Some of the best wildlife artwork in the world may be viewed and purchased during the festival’s run next month. The festival includes more than 150 exhibit booths that feature wildlife art, carvings, jewelry, antique decoys, pottery and more.
“The most significant new thing this year is a lot of new exhibitors. You’re going to see probably 20, 25, 30 new exhibitors maybe,” said David Gossett, the festival’s show chairman and member of the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, which organizes and oversees the festival. “That’s good. I think there are a little new carvers coming, a lot of new artists coming from many, many areas. I think that’s going to be refreshing for the show. Everything else is staying pretty much as it has been in the past.”
Gossett said the lingering effects of the Great Recession are influencing the festival.
“This is a year we are just trying, because of the economy, to held on to what we’ve got. We’ve got a great event,” he said. “We’ve had between 30 and 50 calls coming in on two different lines (Friday) — all kinds of inquiries about the show.”
Bobby Roberson, Washington’s mayor pro tempore and the City Council’s representative on the Washington Tourism Development Authority, weighed in on the festival’s economic impact on the city’s economy.
“It’s no question about it. It’s one of the premier festivals in Beaufort County. It brings in lots of people who spend money,” Roberson said. “It’s a great community project for everybody.”
“It really gives a boost to the downtown economic viability,” Roberson said, noting that exhibitors, vendors and visitors begin arriving the Thursday before festival weekend and spend money at lodging establishments, restaurants and businesses.
“It’s definitely a plus for the weekend. It gives an economic boost right after the Christmas season,” Roberson said.
The decoy-carving competitions, to be held at the Improved Order Of Red Men’s Lodge on East Third Street, has 13 divisions this year. The competitions include several International Wildfowl Carvers Association divisions.
Last year, Ben Heinemann, a North Carolina carver, took the best-in-show award in the decorative-floating division with his carving of a blue-wing teal.
In the decorative-nonfloating division, Al Jordan of New York took the 2011 best-in-show award with his carving of a red-tail hawk. Jordan also took second place and third place in the division.
DockDogs returns for its third 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.
The festival includes the Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling Championships, which will be conducted during a two-day period, Feb. 11-12.
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.
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 Clyde Roberson’s signature clam chowder, fresh-cut fries and cheeseburgers.
For more information about the festival or the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, visit the guild’s website at http://www.eastcarolinawildfowlguild.com.

Duck-stamp competition returns to Civic Center

The annual N.C. Waterfowl Conservation Stamp competition returns to Washington on Jan. 30.
The East Carolina Wildfowl Guild and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will conduct the competition to choose the state’s next “duck stamp” at the Washington Civic Center, with judging beginning at 10 a.m. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Jan. 27 at the guild’s office at 412 River Road, Washington.
The competition is a prelude to the 17th-annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships set for Feb. 11-12 in Washington. The artist whose entry takes first place in the contest will receive $7,000 in prize money and a $300 travel allowance.
This year will be the fourth straight year a nationwide, public art competition was conducted to select the winning artwork used to produce the North Carolina duck stamp. In previous years, the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission picked artists to produce artwork for duck stamps.
Selected entries from this year’s competition will be displayed at the preview reception for the festival. At that reception, to be held Feb. 10, the top five entries will be unveiled by the Wildlife Resources Commission. The top entries will remain on display throughout the festival weekend.
Richard Clifton’s painting of a pair of Canada geese in a fall-winter pasture setting took first place in the 2011-2012 competition. He’s submitted an entry for this year’s competition, said David Gossett, the festival’s show chairman and a guild member.
“It’s shaping up good. We always get most of the entries in the last week before the deadline,” Gossett said of the competition. “Next week, we will probably average five to seven, eight pieces of art coming in every day.”
On Friday, entries were received from artists in Georgia and Montana, he noted.
“From the pieces we’ve gotten so far, it looks like we’ve got four or five artists whose names I don’t recognize from (being in) past competitions,” Gossett said. “So, that’s good.”
Each year, the WRC specified five species/habitats for the competition. For this year, the five eligible species/habitats are tundra swan, northern shoveler, brant, gadwall and redhead. The entries must show an eligible species in an appropriate habitat in North Carolina.
During the summer of 2006, the guild approached and persuaded the WRC to let the guild sponsor a national competition as the way to choose the artwork that will be used to produce the state’s annual waterfowl stamp, according to David Gossett, a guild member and chairman of its annual wildlife festival.
Revenue from sales of the print and stamps go to the commission’s Waterfowl Fund, which provides money for the conservation of waterfowl habitat in North Carolina. The fund has raised more than $4.2 million since its inception.
“The money is used to help North Carolina meet its financial obligations in implementing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the international agreement helping restore waterfowl populations throughout the continent. In addition, funds have been used to support waterfowl research and to buy equipment used to manage wetlands,” according to the commission’s Web site.
For more information about the competition, visit the guild’s website at www.eastcarolinawildfowlguild.com or call 252-946-2897 or 252-946-9326.

Schedule of events, activities

Friday, Feb. 10
DockDogs venue (Kugler Field)
9 a.m. Registration opens
10 a.m. Speed retrieve competition 1
Noon. Big Air Wave competition 1
2 p.m. Big Air Wave competition 2
4 p.m. Big Air Wave competition 3
Main festival (downtown, Red Men’s Lodge)
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. p.m. Exhibitor set-up
Noon to 5 p.m. Registration for carving competitions, Red Men’s Lodge
5:30 p.m. Art-competition judging
5:30 p.m. Judging for best show exhibit
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Preview for sponsors, exhibitors and invited guests.
Co-hosted by The East Carolina Bank and the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild
8 p.m. Welcome, recognition and raffles
8:30 p.m. Unveiling of the 2012-2013 N.C. Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and announcement of art-competition winners
Saturday, Feb. 11
7:30 a.m. to -9:30 a.m. Registration for carving competitions, Red Men’s Lodge
9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Registration for Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling Championships, west end of Stewart Parkway
9 a.m. Show opens to the public. Free shuttles to different venues provided
9 a.m. to noon. Children’s decoy-painting contest, N.C. Estuarium (free to public)
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn-to-carve booth open, Red Men’s Lodge
10 a.m. until event ends. Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling
Championships and awards ceremony (free to public)
DockDogs venue
9 a.m. Registration opens
10 a.m. Speed retrieve competition 2
Noon. Big Air Wave Competition 4
2 p.m. Big Air Wave Competition 5
4 p.m. Extreme vertical competition
Main festival
10 a.m. Carving competitions judging begins (order of competitions
will be available at registration desk)
10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Retriever demonstrations, Kugler Field beside DockDogs (free to public)
5 p.m. Show closes to public. Shuttle service ends for the day
5:30 p.m. Silent auction, Washington Yacht & Country Club
6 p.m. Seafood buffet dinner at auction, WYCC
7:30 p.m. until live auction, WYCC (cash bar available)
Sunday, Feb. 12
DockDogs venue
9 a.m. registration opens
10 a.m. Speed retrieve competition 3
Noon. Big Air Wave competition 6
2:30 p.m. Speed retrieve finals
3:00 p.m. Big Air amateur finals
3:30 p.m. Big Air semi-pro finals
4 p.m. Big Air pro finals
Main festival
8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Church service at First United Methodist Church across
from Civic Center.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn-to-carve booth open, Red Men’s Lodge
9:30 a.m. Show opens to the public (free shuttles to different venues
11 a.m. to noon. Registration for Southern Classic Duck, Goose and
Swan Calling Championships, west end of Stewart Parkway
11:30 a.m. Judging for N.C. Decoy Carving Championship division
Noon. Judging for the Tri-County Telephone Canvas Gunning Decoy
Noon. Southern Classic competitions begin
1:30 p.m. Judging for the O’Neal’s Drug Store Carolina Gunning Decoy Division
2 p.m. Retriever demonstrations, Kugler Field (next to DockDogs venue and free to public)
2:30 p.m. Judging for TRADE carving division
3 p.m. Drawings for door prizes and raffles, Civic Center
3:30 p.m. Carving-competitions awards ceremony
4 p.m. Show closes to public and carving-competitions checkout
4:30 p.m. Shuttle service ends
Admission: One-day pass, $10 a person; three-day pass, $15 a person.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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