Hundreds of Eastern Shore natives and locals take to the marshlands armed, usually with a gun and a sharp mind. Hunters and trappers of the area know how to navigate the shallow, thick waters of our shore in search of muskrat, wildfowl, and deer.
For several decades decorative decoy carving, construction of folk art, and duck and goose calling have become the norm for hunters and trappers. Competitions are devoted to rallying the best of the best – and many of them take place in our coastal communities.
The many hunters and trappers who grew up on the Shore have a certain appreciation and respect for the creatures they hunt. Out of that respect an inspiration is sometimes formed. Wildfowl decoys are hand crafted and play an important role as a hunting tool. Working decoys reflect the region and hunting preferences.
The Lower Shore is known for their flat-bottomed birds. The Upper Shore decoys often feature rounded bottoms. In areas between, decoys are created based on personal preference, aesthetics, terrain, and hunting needs.
The Eastern Shore has always been known for their master decoy carvers. Brothers from Crisfield, MD, Lem and Steve Ward, were world-renowned champion waterfowl carvers. The Ward Museum of Salisbury, MD was built in 1968 and dedicated in memory of the Ward Brothers. The duo had an eye for nature and decoy making. Their artistry will be forever remembered.
Several events on the Eastern Shore are dedicated to the area’s wildlife, waterfowl, and folk art. National shows are held yearly in Ocean City, Easton, and other rural towns. During the winter and spring month’s artisans, carvers, and those with great appreciation attend events held along the coast.
The 43rd Annual Ward World Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival takes place at Ocean City’s Roland E. Powell Convention Center April 26th – 28th, 2013. This show features carvers, from novice beginners to the World Champion, and is the largest and longest running wildfowl carving competition in the entire world.
Carvers take advantage the beneficial educational conferences and networking opportunities the competition and festival provides. Check out the event schedule (Adult & Youth Education Conference) below:
CLASSES: (Monday – Thursday, April 22nd – 25th)
Learn to create award-winning carvings with professional and World Champion carvers at the 20123 Education Conference. Classes are offered prior to the competition in various locations thought-out Ocean City, MD. 4 day and 3 day classes are offered by many artists.
- Bob Guge: Carve and Paint a Baltimore Oriole
- Jeff Rechin: Paint an American Kestrel
- Rich & Ross Smoker: Carve and Paint a Ward Brothers Style Green-Winged Teal Hen
- Dan Burgette: Carving Interpretive Wood Sculpture
SEMINARS: (Friday – Sunday, April 26th – 28th)
Enhance your visit to the Ward World Championships by attending a seminar. Learn techniques to create award-winning carvings from champion and professional carvers. Youth under the age of 18 receive free admission to all seminars. Check out seminar speakers and topics below:
- Tom Christie: Painting Gunning Decoys
- Regan Danos: Louisiana Decoys through the Years
- Tom Horn: Habitats with Metal
- Peter Palumbo: Field Notes and Journaling
- Jack Cox: TBD
- Carving Techniques for Youth, Painting Techniques for Youth, Carve and Paint the 2014 Youth Silhouette & more…
- Sunset Board Trip on the Sinepuxent Bay: Friday, April 27th, 7 – 8:30 pm ($25 for Ward Museum members, $30 for non-members) Enjoy sunset while cruising the bay and discovering the ecological treasure of Maryland’s coastal bays. Learn about local conservation efforts on Skimmer Island and Assateague Island National Seashore. Catch a glimpse pelicans, oystercatchers, cormorants, loons, terns, piping plovers, and wild ponies. Boat space is limited. Pre-registration is suggested.
- Early Bird Walks: Saturday and Sunday, April 28th and 29th, 7 – 9 am ($10 for Ward Museum members, $15 for non-members) Join Education Director, Kim Check, on an early morning bird walk on Saturday or Sunday at Assateague Island National Seashore. Many bird species of songbirds and shorebirds make use of this barrier island during their transcontinental migration in the spring. This is a great opportunity to view the early migrants who pass through. The walking portion of this bird outing will be no longer than ½ mile on a well maintained national park trail. Fieldtrip departs from the OC Convention Center promptly at 7 am and returns at 9 am. Maximum of 10 participants per trip.
To sign up for classes, seminars, or field trips, visit the Ward Museum website
. Full conference and competition details and rules are available on the web