Feathered friends: Festival features wildlife wonders, artists’ achievements
Published 3:27 pm Saturday, January 3, 2015
One of Washington’s longest-running festivals celebrates 20 years of existence when it returns downtown the weekend of Feb. 6-8.
The East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships, started by the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild and now managed by the Washington Tourism Development Authority, draws some of the best wildlife artists, decoy carvers and wildfowl callers in the nation. It also brings customers to area businesses and visitors to the city during what is the slowest time of the year (when it comes to sales) for most of those businesses.
The festival is a celebration of the time-honored artistry of decoy carving, from simple, unadorned decoys used to entice waterfowl to land on bodies of water to intricately carved, detailed decoys that are more art masterpieces than functional decoys. The festival also showcases wildlife art, from paintings to sculptures.
For the first time, the festival opens to the public on a Friday. In years past, the festival was open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. A one-day pass costs $10, with a three-day pass costing $15. Children under 12 years old attend the festival at no cost.
The guild presents the carving championships. This year, the Harlequin drake is species for the North Carolina carving championship and the decorative head carving championship. Sea ducks — including all species of smew, long-tailed duck (old squaw), scoter, eider, harlequin, red-breasted merganser and common merganser — are the waterfowl featured in the Pamlico gunning pairs carving contest. This year’s Tar River Annual Decoy Event carving competition will feature old-squaw drakes, as will the O’Neal’s Drug Store Carolina gunning division contest.
First-in-show prize monies range from $1,000 to $100, depending upon division.
The city’s tourism website — www.littlewashingtonnc.com — has a link to the festival’s website. (Click on the “Arts and Culture” icon, then scroll down that page to the “East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival” link and click on it.) Another option is to simply visit www.ecwaf.com to access the festival’s website.