World’s Top Carvers Compete

OCEAN CITY – The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, will host the largest bird carving competition in the world this weekend.

Now in its 38th year, the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival Carvers takes place at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City from April 25-27. Carvers from the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom make their annual pilgrimage to Ocean City, Maryland to compete for a chance to win the coveted world champion title.

On display are approximately 1,500 lifelike wildfowl carvings. Anyone who attends the show not only gets to see these intricate works of art, but they can also learn about birds through the artists’ interpretations of nature.

“We know that there are over 600 bird species in the United States,” said Lora Bottinelli, executive director of the Ward Museum. “While you may not see all of them at the show, you certainly will enjoy many of them as well as many birds from around the world. For anyone who adores nature, enjoys birds and appreciates fine art, the World Championship is the place to be in April.”

Some of these carvings sell to collectors for thousands of dollars, and others are purchased for as little as $100 dollars. Kem Appell, a collector from Farmington, Conn., comes to the event each year.

“My passion for the past 20 years has been raising and maintaining a sanctuary for waterfowl as a means to teach youngsters the beauty within nature, life cycle and the need for conservation to preserve the planet’s diminishing wildlife species. About the same time, I was introduced to decorative wildfowl carving. It was an instant bonding,” Apell said. I look forward to going to Ocean City each April. To see the many hundreds of works of art displayed and judged at the Ward World Championship in all levels of competition is mind boggling. Each year the best carvers in the world bring the finest pieces they made over the past year to be judged against each others’ work. Along with the Ward Museum, it’s the best place in the world to see the world’s best.”

Other collectors also make the World Championship a must visit each year.

“My wife, Nancy, and I collect miniature bird carvings because we appreciate the artistry with which carvers capture the essence of each of the species,” Lew Pearce said. “Miniatures don’t require a lot of space and are highly decorative, and even sculptures by world champion carvers can be relatively inexpensive. One of the best places to purchase these carvings is at the annual auction held on Saturday afternoon at the show."

In addition to seeing the bird carvings, meeting the carvers and watching the judging, the public can attend workshops on a variety of subjects and shop at over 100 exhibitor booths. Paintings, photography, folk art, ceramics and many home decorating items are for sale as well as wood and carving and art supplies.

The show hours are hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.