Heed the (Goose) Call at the 2023 Waterfowl Festival

In 1971, a group of Eastern Shore men and women decided it was time to celebrate the birds that visit and inhabit the Chesapeake Bay. Three tables were set up in downtown Easton, Maryland. Today, those three tables have expanded to 17 sites across the town with more than 14,000 visitors last year. Besides offering a variety of locally produced food and beverages, there’s a lot of non-culinary events honoring waterfowl.

Woodcarvers display their reproductions of both ducks and geese while forums for painting and photography provide firsthand advice to bring images to life. 

This year’s featured artist is Pati Stajcar who tells Chesapeake Bay Magazine she grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania where her parents always had new plants that attracted birds. Waterfowl Festival visitors will see her featured work, “Aesop’s Fables”, depicting the Crow and the Pitcher story about necessity and innovation when a thirsty crow finds a way to drink water from an almost empty pitcher. 

“I believe sculpture should be touched, unless of course it’s a fragile piece, and I invite people to caress my work,” she says. “It’s such a tactile form of art and when you run your hands over it you get a sense of what the artist wanted to share with you and how their hands moved in rhythm with the flow of the sculpture.”

Youngsters (ages 5 and older) can take classes in decoy painting and soap carving, hear stories from the Chesapeake Mermaid and other local authors, and meet with Willa the Waterfowl Fox and Webster the Waterfowl Goose. They’ll have a chance to learn and participate in both duck and goose calling as well as trying out their fishing derby skills. 

The Delmarva Dock Dogs compete to catch a flying decoy and your dog is welcome to participate. Members of the Talbot Retriever Club will be at a local pond demonstrating their ability to bring back whatever is thrown into the water. Dogs are invited to attend the festival as long as they’re leashed.

The World Waterfowl Calling Championships conclude Saturday with skilled and newbie contestants trying to be the top goose and duck caller in the country. Waterfowl calling expert John Taylor has a quick lesson if you want to compete (and maybe attract a duck or goose as well).

Some Festival Need-to-Knows: 

*The Waterfowl Festival is now cashless. The $25 ticket covers all three days of the event. Credit/debit cards only are accepted at the ticket booth. Veterans pay $20 on Friday, Nov. 10 (Veterans Day).

*A VIP dinner takes place on Thursday evening, Nov. 9. The festival is open from Friday Nov. 10 through Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023.

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