Inspired by the Chesapeake Bay and its waterfowl residents, decoy carvers have been creating masterpieces in Talbot County for generations.
Today, a handful of whittlers continue this proud Chesapeake Bay tradition. In fact, Talbot County is renowned for its style and workmanship to such a degree that it has become the home base of one the world’s most important decoy auction houses Guyette and Deeter, Inc., based in St. Michaels.
This auction house has logged more than $220 million in sales, and the decoys that have passed through these doors wind up in private collections all over the world, from France to China to Australia. Whether you wish to bid or not, you can get a taste of the action at the famous fall auction, which takes place in early November and is one of the largest on the East Coast.
However, this is hardly the only spot where you can check out this art form. There are plenty of local galleries and boutiques selling carved, signed decoys handcrafted by regional artisans. Plus, each November you can check out some of the finest local workmanship, along with that of international carvers, at the annual Waterfowl Festival.
An Event that Honors the Eastern Shore Way of Life
The Annual Waterfowl Festival flies in to downtown Easton each November and is the quintessential purveyor of Eastern Shore culture and heritage. The festival hosts many events and exhibits including plenty of opportunities to delve into decoys.
The Annual Decoy Tailgate Show takes place the Tuesday through Thursday before the Waterfowl Festival at the Talbot County Community Center and features more than 150 different vendors from all over the country. Vendors display their work and have working decoys, carved decoys, artwork, sculptures, antiques and more for sale.
Attendees to the Annual Waterfowl Festival can participate in the event’s Sam Dyke Memorial “Old Bird” Antique Decoy Competition. Visitors can register their favorite working decoy made before 1950 on the Friday of the event for judging on Saturday and perhaps take home a ribbon! Registration is free with decoys being judged in ten different categories.