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Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo presented by Ward Museum

SALISBURY–The Ward Museum of Wildfowl
Art, Salisbury University, will host the 16th annual Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo,
Saturday, Oct. 12.

This event pays tribute to old decoys
while encouraging the carving of new ones. The museum, located on Schumaker
Pond, provides the setting for this annual celebration of waterfowling events,
which are an important part of the Delmarva Peninsula’s history.

On Oct. 12, vendors will convert the
front parking lot into a festive marketplace for the Buy, Sell and Trade, which
offers shoppers an eclectic mix of fine antique decoys, collectible hunting
items, folk art, outdoor memorabilia and antique furniture. Traditionally,
vendors and collectors are excited to see what “new” treasures will be brought
to the marketplace. The public is encouraged to bring their antique decoys for
free identification and appraisals.

The
Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo provides attendees a day of competition and family
fun. Decoy shows and competitions have been taking place for more than 100
years and have become a tradition within the American culture. Honoring these
traditions, the museum holds its annual Chesapeake Challenge from 11 a.m. to 4
p.m., overlooking Schumaker Pond. During the challenge, working waterfowl
decoys are judged in the water so their qualities and usefulness for hunting
may be evaluated. There are separate competitions for shorebirds, woodpeckers
and contemporary antique decoys. Prior to the start of the challenge, a
separate youth competition for ages 17 and under takes place, with waterfowl
decoys being floated and competing against one another for top honors.
Competitors from Maine to California will migrate to Salisbury to participate
in the challenge.

Made possible through a grant from the
National Endowment for the Arts, the Chesapeake Challenge will once again be
enhanced by the Carving Out Future Decoy Makers Project. Ten carving
instructors, representing flyways from across the United States, teach six
students each, how to carve a traditional working decoy; bringing the finished
decoys to be entered in the challenge. This year, a master carvers’ forum takes
place prior to the start of the decoy competition, offering the public a chance
to interact with the carvers as they discuss their experiences during the
project. Students participating in the Carving Out Future Decoy Makers Project
range from youth to grandfathers.

Another popular event is the “Old
Birds” Antique Decoy Competition. Collectors from across the region enter their
antique decoys (carved prior to 1950) for evaluation. This contest differs from
the Shootin’ Stool Competition in that the decoy is no longer judged for its
usefulness as a hunting tool, but it is judged for its collectability as a
decoy with historical value. This year there are 10 categories of carvings, which include specific species or carvings from a specific
region or carver. This competition offers the public a unique opportunity to
compare various collectible styles from around the country.

Additional activities include a duck
head-carving contest and a power- versus hand-carving demonstration. Children
may participate in a variety of free activities and crafts including painting a
Puffin silhouette, painting and basic carving, using Dremel tools. Concessions,
including a bake sale, are available to expo attendees on both days.

The exhibit “Resurrection: The
Taxidermist’s Art” is in the museum’s LaMay Gallery. Taxidermy, from the Greek
for “arrangement of skin” is the art of preparing and mounting the skins of
animals for display and as sources for study. The practice has its roots in
embalming and preservation methods familiar to the ancient Egyptians, but
developments by European apothecaries in the middle ages as well as
17th-century innovations for mounting birds have all contributed to a
contemporary art form in which anatomically accurate figures incorporate every
detail of a species in artistically interesting poses that consider the
animal’s natural behavior. Today, works of taxidermy serve simultaneously as
trophies of the hunt, objects of scientific study, and works of art. Artists
may take on flights on imagination through the creation of imaginary or
anthropomorphic creatures. The LaMay Gallery will showcase the works of
historic and contemporary taxidermists as we trace the history and
possibilities of this enduring art form.

The museum’s Welcome Gallery showcases
the exhibit “The Nature Photographer’s Kit: From Plates to Pixels.” Showcasing
two centuries of photography equipment from early 1800’s innovations to digital
imaging, the exhibit will illustrate the progression and refinement of
photographic equipment to capture nature’s beauty. This display will be on
exhibit in the Welcome Gallery alongside the winning photographs from the 2013
Art In Nature Photography Competition.

Admission to the museum and
event are free. For more information visit the Ward Museum Web site, www.wardmuseum.org,
or call 410-742-4988, ext. 106.