“It’s more than a festival, it’s a way of life, ” said Cassandra Vanhooser, Talbot County’s director of economic development and tourism. That’s how she describes the 47th annual Waterfowl Festival. Returning to the colonial town of Easton, Maryland, Nov. 10-12, 2017, the event welcomes 18,000 to 20,0000 visitors each year to celebrate the arts and wildlife found throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.
Since the first Waterfowl Festival in 1971, the event has given more than $5 million in wildlife and conservation grants to more than 50 national and regional organizations. With a goal to educate the public and raise funds to preserve wildlife on Maryland’s coastlines, this annual celebration brings together wildlife enthusiasts, artists and families looking to experience all things Eastern Shore.
Here’s a look at what to expect from the 2017 Waterfowl Festival:
Celebrate the Arts
Art collectors and wildlife lovers can enjoy exploring more than the 300 regional and national artists presenting their works at this year’s festival. The works of art on display and available for purchase includes sculptures, photography, paintings and woodwork carvings, which all celebrate wildlife.
The festival also includes art auctions and demonstrations along with workshops and classes held throughout the weekend. Downtown art galleries also open their doors to visitors to purchase and admire the wildlife works of art.
This year’s featured artist is painter Julie Rogers, an Easton resident and longtime supporter of the Waterfowl Festival. Her signature work of art, “The Long Stretch” that features Tundra swans along the Chesapeake Bay, is the festival’s 2017 signature piece and available for purchase at this year’s event.
Hands-On Fun for Kids of All Ages
From hands-on soap making classes to kids classes on wood carving and painting their own decoys, there are plenty of interactive activities for little ones to show off their creativity.
Families are also invited to participate in the creation of their own miniature version of the Conservation Mural. This interactive piece of artwork allows festival goers to show off what they love about Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem and allows little ones to use templates to create and cut out their own Chesapeake Bay creature.
Buy, Sell, Swap and Shop at the Waterfowl Festival
In addition to the art galleries found throughout the downtown area, shoppers and wildlife enthusiasts can visit The Sportsman’s Pavilion with vendors selling outdoor apparel, hunting gear and fishing equipment. Held at Easton Elks Lodge, hunting and sporting enthusiasts can take a look at the latest apparel and hunting gear and learn about the latest trends in the sport. From that hard to find fishing lure to new hunting boots and taxidermy supplies, shoppers will find something to fit their outdoor needs.
Decoy collectors won’t want to miss the popular Buy, Sell, Swapevent at Easton High School, perfect for negotiating trades and purchases for memorabilia and those hard to find decoys. Known as a “trader’s bazaar,” haggling is encouraged between buyers and sellers too.
Explore the Wildlife History of Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Visitors can also soak up some history at Easton High School’s Harry M. Walsh Waterfowling Artifacts Exhibit. They can trace the history of waterfowling from an economic necessity to the popular sport it is today. Alongside relics and antiques loaned from private and public museum collections, this exhibit tells the story of the rich hunting traditions along Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Participate in Hands-on Demonstrations
Don’t miss experiencing the popular DockDogs® competition throughout the weekend at Easton High School. Cheer the dogs to victory as they race down the dock competing to see which can remain airborne the farthest and highest.
The Talbot Retriever Club will have retriever demonstrations all weekend, showing off the skills and techniques of these prestigious hunting dogs.
Master falconer Brian Bradleywill present flight demonstrations with hawks, falcons and owls, showing off their hunting skills numerous times throughout the festival.
At the Bay Street Ponds, little ones can take part in the kids’ fishing derby as members of the MidShore Chapter of the Maryland Coastal Conservation Association teach kids how to cast and reel in their first catch. Adults can also learn how to reel in a big one with hands-on fly-fishing demonstrations.
Enjoy Tasty Sips and Good Eats
From local favorites such as oyster po’boys to crab soup and soft-shell crab sandwiches and more— visitors can experience a delicious taste of the Eastern Shore eats during the festival. The Craft Brew Pub at the Easton Elks Lodgewill have pints from local and national breweries, alongside Chesapeake’s favorite delicacies.
Visitors will definitely want to stop by the popular Wine, Beer and Tasting Pavilion on Harrison Street to try different sips from local wineries and breweries. Paired with local cheeses and sweets, this tasting pavilion is always a hot spot for those looking to experience a taste of the local flavor. In addition to the tastings, beer and wine are available for purchase by the glass and by the bottle to take home, too. Festivalgoers can enjoy a nice glass of wine or beer while listening to live music from some of Eastern Maryland’s favorite performers.
Experience the Waterfowl Festival Like a VIP
Interested in a private look at this year’s festival? The VIP Premiere Night takes place on Nov. 9 and will showcase a preview of this year’s artworks and the opportunity to bid in the “Making Way for Ducklings” Art and Decoy Auction. Premiere Night guests can also take part in the traveling cocktail party, where they will visit each of the downtown galleries with the “Fin, Fowl and Farm” tasting tour and open bar.
Where to Stay in Talbot County
From quaint bed and breakfasts to hotels, make it a weekend getaway to experience all the wonderful and exciting activities at the Waterfowl Festival.
From the charming The Tidewater Inn with roots dating back to 1712 to Bartlett Pear Inn, which has seven bedrooms and an on-site bistro, guests will fall in love with the experience and beauty of Talbot County.
Best Western Plus Easton Inn & Suites and Quality Inn Easton are sponsors of the festival, so guests staying at one of these hotels will have easy access to this year’s events. For more places to stay, visit our list of Talbot County accommodations.
Plan Your Visit to the 2017 Waterfowl Festival
From accommodations to local foods, artwork and supporting the preservation of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, make plans now to experience this year’s 2017 Waterfowl Festival. Purchase festival tickets in advanced, secure a place to stay and get ready for a weekend of fun—right here in Talbot County.