Each year the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, plays host to the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival, which brings talented artists from across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia to Ocean City, Md., allowing them to showcase their carving talent.
This year’s event will be held Friday-Sunday, April 25-27, at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Md. The wildfowl carvings range from highly decorative works of art to functional hunting decoys.
On display will be more than 1,400 wildfowl carvings by artists representing all levels of experience, from youth to world champions, with each competing for a share of nearly $60,000 in cash and prizes at what is recognized as the world’s largest and most prestigious event of its kind.
Since the first competition, more than four decades ago, the world championship has awarded carvers with more than $2.5 million in prize money. Anyone attending the show has a chance not only to see these intricately detailed works of art but also to learn about the different bird species through the carvers’ interpretation of nature.
“You will have a chance to enjoy the beauty of many of the more than 600 bird species in the United States, in addition to species from around the globe,” said Lora Bottinelli, executive director of the Ward Museum. “For anyone who adores nature, enjoys birds and has an appreciation for fine art, the world championship is the place to be to experience the best wildfowl art the world has to offer.”
Back by popular demand Sunday, April 27, is Skyhunters in Flight, a demonstration of the ancient art of falconry, with master falconer Brian Bradley. Bradley will present an educational lecture with live birds on display, followed by free flight demonstrations with a variety of raptors from around the world.
Educational classes, seminars and demonstrations by master carvers give visitors the chance to learn the ins and outs of wildfowl carving. Activities for children are plentiful at the Kids Corner, where children can create soap carvings, carve feathers using power tools, and receive instruction from a world champion carver and decoy painter. Outdoor activities will include an early morning bird-watching excursion to Assateague Island and a sunset cruise on Sinepuxent Bay.
Saturday’s live auction provides a chance to bid on original works of art by top artists from around the world. A silent auction for the two winning carvings from the Champagne Waterfowl and Champagne Waterfowl Champion divisions also is scheduled. Visitors may also purchase carvings directly from the artists at the Carvers Art Shop.
A list of hotels offering special rates to visitors attending the show is available at www.wardmuseum.org. Show hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, April 25, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, April 26, with the awards ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m. Show hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, April 27. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
For more information, call 410-742-4988, Ext. 120, or go to www.wardmuseum.org.