HCWA to host annual decoy, waterfowl festival

Published 5:27 pm Saturday, January 11, 2014


Hyde County Waterfowl Association


Hyde County Waterfowl Association is calling outdoor sportsmen and lovers of nature to celebrate Hyde County’s waterfowl heritage at the fifth-annual Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival and banquet set for Jan. 17-19.

The association will kick off the two-and-a-half day event with a banquet Friday at Philips Place on U.S, Highway 264 in New Holland. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour. A dinner of barbecued chicken, steamed shrimp and oyster stew will be served at 7 p.m., and an auction begins at 8 p.m. Items up for grabs include firearms, hunting supplies and local art work. Admission is $40 per person or $60 for couples, and includes dinner and drinks.

The Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival takes next Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5 per day, or $8 for a two-day pass. Held at the Mattamuskeet High School gym on U.S. 264, this year’s event will feature a host of local, regional and national artists and vendors displaying wares such as original art work, guide-service packages, hunting gear, accessories and, of course, hand-carved decoys.

This year, the festival is held in memory of Rolland Tooley, a Hyde County native, lifelong sportsman and member of Hyde County Waterfowl Association.

Gurganus noted that one of the organizers’ goals of the festival is to provide fund-raising opportunities for Hyde County nonprofit groups. In that spirit, local fire departments and churches will be supplying lunch beginning at 11 a.m. each day. Offerings will vary, likely because of the seasonality of the meals but concessions will be available throughout the event. Also in the spirit of community, area nonprofits will set up alongside vendors, taking advantage of the chance to educate festival-goers on local causes.

When festivities begin Saturday, so will guided tours of the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. Nature lovers will observe a plethora of tundra and wildlife in their natural setting, while under the direction of a knowledgeable tour guide that will explain locations and the area’s rich history. Tours are free and offered until 4 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

State, local and federal agencies have also lent continued support to the festival. This year, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will set up an interactive laser shot simulator, allowing folks a free chance to test their shooting skills.

Gunning decoy artists will be able to register for the decoy contest from 9 to 10:45 Saturday morning. Judging begins at 11 a.m., and plaques will be placed by the winning exhibits soon thereafter. Organizers are expecting a talented turnout, and spectators will be able to observe the handcrafted entries throughout the event.

Outside on the school grounds, retriever demonstrations will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. A retriever competition will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Sunday’s agenda is packed with competitions for game calling hopefuls and experienced retrievers, with doors opening at 9 a.m. Registration for those wishing to compete in the all-day calling competition takes place from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Sign-ups for the retriever competition will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, with the event to be held at 3 p.m.

Funds raised by the festival support waterfowl habitat and promote tourism in the area. HCWA projects include installation of wood duck nesting boxes and a visitors/civic center to further enhance ecotourism in Hyde County.

For a complete schedule of events, visit www.hydewaterfowl.com or like Hyde County Waterfowl Festival on Facebook.