OCEAN CITY – The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University celebrates art, nature and tradition by hosting the 40th Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival.
Held at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center April 23-25, carvers from all skill levels, ranging from youth to world class, compete for over $70,000 in prize money at the largest and most prestigious event of its kind. Over the past 40 years, more than $2.25 million in prize money has been awarded.
Competitors from around the world present carving styles and bird species that span the globe. Over 1,500 bird carvings are entered into 38 different categories of competition, including decorative life-size and miniature, decorative waterfowl pair and interpretive wood sculpture, as well as several categories of hunting decoys, giving visitors the chance to experience the best wildfowl art the world has to offer.
Although this event originally was established to give decoy makers and bird carvers a chance to showcase their work and compete against others of similar skill, its evolution into an international spectacle attest to the appeal the event has to the artist and visitor alike. In addition to the competitions and judging, the Ward World Championships also offer visitors a wide range of events and activities that provide different looks at the art of bird carving.
Over 100 exhibitors provide unique paintings, photography, ceramics, sculptures, folk art, jewelry, and carving and art supplies that are available for visitors to purchase. Seminars and demonstrations given by master carvers give visitors the chance to learn the ins and outs of bird carving from those responsible for helping the art form evolve to where it is today. Children’s activities such as soap and feather carving and decoy painting, under the direction of former world champions, inspire the next generation of carvers while teaching about our waterfowling heritage.
For those visitors who are avid collectors or for those wanting to begin their own decoy or bird carving collections, Saturday’s 3 p.m. auction benefiting the Ward Museum is a place to purchase some original carvings by artists from around the world. In addition to the auction, the Ward World Championships offer visitors the chance to purchase carvings directly from artists at the Carver’s Art Shop.
The show hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and free for children under 12 who are accompanied by an adult. Three-day passes to the event are available for $18.