Arts of the Pamlico brings back festival to downtown

Published 11:20 pm Monday, December 11, 2017



After a one-year absence, the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival is expected to return to Washington’s downtown/waterfront area in 2018.

Arts of the Pamlico is the main force behind reviving the festival, something in which Debra Torrence, AOP executive director, takes pride. “We’re very excited about it, and to be able to highlight the arts. … We will be mixing in live music and an art walk, which will be on (that) Saturday from 5 to 7 (p.m.), and that’s among our nine art galleries. We have more than Greenville now,” Torrance said. “Isn’t that great?”

The festival, scheduled for the second weekend in February, retains many of the events and activities it offered in its 20-year history. A boat, truck and all-terrain vehicle show is planned for Stewart Parkway during Feb. 9-10, according to a memorandum from Torrence to city officials.

“We will be using the theater for several events, including the duck-stamp unveiling on Feb. 8, which will include the sponsor party. The stamp unveiling will be open to the public, and that will be in the theater on stage,” Torrence said. “We our lining up exhibitors … and we’re starting to reach out to merchants to ask how they want to be involved so we can get feet moving through the whole downtown, on Main and Market (streets) and beyond.”

Local artist Pat Holscher will be the featured artist during the festival. Her work will be featured in the Turnage Theatre gallery.

“Our hope is to do some kind of duck hunt, quote unquote, in downtown, where people identify the ducks by going into merchants’ shops. They’ll be able to enter (a drawing) … for a gift basket. There also will be a silent auction (that) Friday night,” Torrence said.

“We’re going to have a whole array of things that focus on the arts,” Torrance said.

At a City Council meeting in September, Torrence said AOP is working hard to bring back the festival. . “We are really close to making this thing fly. No pun intended,” Torrence told the council then.

AOP seeks festival sponsorship at five levels: mallard, $3,500; wood duck, $1.250; pintail, $600; ringneck, $300 and redhead, $150. Mallard-level sponsors are limited to a maximum of three, wood duck-levels sponsors are limited to a maximum of 10, pintail-levels sponsors will not exceed 20 and there is no limit on ringneck- and redhead-levels sponsors, according to AOP.

The sponsorship program is “coming along,” Torrence said. “We’ve raised a little bit over $10,000 toward costs,” she said. “The city gave us $1,250, and the county $1,000.”

The three-day festival drew several thousand people to Washington each year. Some of those visitors spent money at area restaurants and stayed at area lodging establishments. Many downtown eateries brought in extra workers for the festival weekend.

City official, particularly Mayor Mac Hodges, believe reviving the festival is important — it provides a boost to the area economy during a time such a boost is needed: winter, traditionally the slowest time business-wise for downtown and other businesses.

The 2018 festival, unlike past festivals, will not include a decoy-carving competition, according to the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, which conducted those previous contests.



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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