- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

EASTON, Md. — Nothing against wooden duck decoys, but organizers of Easton’s Waterfowl Festival have decided to add new attractions to liven up the annual wildlife art show.

The result is a flurry of new activities for this year’s event, including wine tastings, evening concerts and a new exhibit for hunters and fishermen.

The festival, held each year since 1971, draws up to 20,000 people looking for high-end nature art and detailed duck decoys, some of which can fetch thousands of dollars.

But festival organizers have planned new exhibits this year to freshen up the festival, which ends Sunday.

“People get tired of doing the same thing every year,” said Lynne Rich of Easton, who once went to the festival annually but acknowledges skipping most of it in recent years because she had seen it before.

This year, Miss Rich is pouring merlot and chardonnay from her Talbot County winery, Little Ashby Vineyards, in the new wine tasting tent.

The tent, featuring samples from nine Maryland wineries, joins evening concerts by Motown and bluegrass bands as a new attraction at the Waterfowl Festival.

Another fresh attraction is a Sportsman’s Pavilion, where retailers will display boats and hunting and fishing gear. The Waterfowl Festival has even changed its tagline to include the new exhibit and now calls itself “A Wildlife Art and Sportsman’s Expo.”

Festival organizers hope the additional attractions will breathe new life into the event and draw people who perhaps saw it only as a wooden decoy exhibit.

“We felt it was important to add some new exciting features,” said Judy Price, executive director of the festival. “I think it’s going to broaden everyone’s experience. We also want to give them more of a flavor of the wonderful ambiance of downtown Easton.”

With nighttime concerts, including a free one tomorrow night outside the landmark Tidewater Inn downtown, festival-goers could spend more time (and money) in Easton.

The wine tent, in particular, could draw a new crowd, said Ann White, communications coordinator for the festival.

“It will bring us people that haven’t been to the festival before,” she said. “There’s so many wine lovers these days and people who want to learn about wine, so we decided to feature our own Maryland wines and see how it goes.”

For those more interested in the tried-and-true waterfowl art, organizers said the festival will remain one the nation’s premier shows for nature art, including photography, sculpture and decoys.

“We still have all our old wonderful things,” Miss White said.

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