For three days every November, between 18,000 and 20,000 visitors discover the best of Eastern Shore wildlife, nature, art, heritage, food, and fun at the annual Waterfowl Festival.
While the festival focuses on art, sportsmanship, and conservation, the festival is fully integrated into the town of Easton. The streets in downtown become a vast pedestrian mall, allowing you to stroll from event venues to locally owned boutiques, art exhibits, and top-notch restaurants with ease. There’s a lively vibe as families, couples, friends, and even dogs — lots of dogs — soak in the best of the season.
This year’s Festival will be held November 10-12, and tickets for three days are only $20 each – Ticket prices will increase to $25 on November 1st
Wild About Art
Excellent wildlife art defines the Waterfowl Festival. Painters, sculptors, carvers, and photographers from all over North America exhibit at five different venues, offering a chance to engage with the artists directly. Hundreds of pieces of artwork will be on sale, making this event a major attraction for art collectors, whether you’re looking for investment pieces or unique holiday gifts for friends and family.
This year’s featured artist is sculptor Pati Stajcar, a renowned sculptor with a passion for capturing the essence of nature and storytelling in her work. Her work, “Aesop’s Fable”, was chosen as the Featured Art Piece for 2023, and depicts the pivotal scene of two clever crows dropping stones in a pitcher to raise the level of the water so as to quench their thirst. This and her other works can be seen at the Featured Art Tent across from the Waterfowl Building at 40 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton during the festival.
Easton is a well-regarded arts hub, anchored by one of the East Coast’s finest small art museums, the Academy Art Museum, which this year will be exhibiting art produced by wildlife artists, along with its own extraordinary collection. You can interact with artists and watch them work at galleries throughout downtown.
For the Sportsman
Extensive festival programming means there’s always something fun and engaging to do at the Waterfowl Festival. Retriever Demonstrations are among the most popular events of the weekend, where hunting dogs respond to their handlers’ commands as they dive into a local pond, locate objects, and bring them back to shore, always to a cheering crowd.
Animal lovers will also want to check out the Dock Dogs competition, a national competition where pooches put their paws to the test in a long jump from dock to water to see which dog can leap the furthest. Anyone can register their dog at the event site. And the highest stake event of the entire festival weekend, and a must-experience event, is the World Championship Duck and Goose Calling Contests, where winners can net prize purses of $5,000 to $12,000!
Falling under both the arts and sportsman categories, waterfowl decoys are an important part of the festival with a decoy tailgate event, one of the largest decoy auctions of the east coast, carving demos, exhibits and more all happening during the event. Learn more about this important art form and its importance to Eastern Shore culture.
Crab, Oysters, and More
No visit to the Eastern Shore is complete without sampling the best of what the Chesapeake Bay offers. Food vendors will be serving crabs and oysters, served in every imaginable way. Try local favorites include Shoreboys’ award-winning cream of crab soup, which you’ll find in front of Easton Antiques on Harrison Street, and the freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, sold on Washington Street near the courthouse.
At the festival’s tasting pavilion, a small entrance fee earns you unlimited small pours, along with substantial tastings from local artisanal purveyors. And nearby, a beer “wetland” and garden serves up regional craft brews and games, including the ever-popular Cornhole.
At the VFW on Glebe Road, there will be craft beers, archery and raptor demonstrations, and more food.
People watching is a must during the festival weekend. Discover a perfect perch at one of Easton’s acclaimed restaurants, many of which offer outdoor dining on their patios, porches and sidewalks.
Along Harrison Street, try the garden courtyard at Legal Assets for shareable bites, many with Asian flair, or the wide patio at Hunter’s Tavern, where they’ve been serving local specialties since 1949. On Washington Street, take a table on the slate patio at Scossa, renowned for Northern Italian fare, or a window seat at The Wardroom, coveted for cheese plates and an international wine selection. Reservations for any restaurant is highly recommended.
Cap off your weekend visit with a sweet treat at one of downtown Easton’s two locally owned ice cream parlors. Storm & Daughters is ideal for kid favorites, serving rainbow sherbet and towering waffle sundaes, while Bonheur appeals to a sophisticated palate with grownup egg-custard-based frozen treats, including maple walnut and apple pie spiked with bourbon.
A three-day pass costs $20 ($25 after November 1st) and gains entry to all the venues, including bus transportation to and from satellite sites outside downtown. Scope out the event sites on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and then return to your favorites throughout the weekend.
Elevate your experience with a VIP package that includes admission to the Festival’s daytime activities, an invitation to the Festival’s Premiere Night, access to the VIP Hospitality Suite at the Bullitt House where you can relax with refreshments in between exhibits, and exclusive discounts.
Better yet, become a Corporate Sponsor! No matter the size of your business or organization– there are many ways that you can support the Waterfowl Festival.
Insider’s Tip: While paper maps are available, you can also access the Waterfowl Festival app on GooglePlay and the iTunes Store.