Carvers Flock To Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, will once again host the 39th Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival at the Roland E Powell Convention Center from April 24-26.

For visitors, the event offers an experience like no other. In addition to exhibitors selling their paintings, photography, ceramics, bronze sculptures, folk-art, home decorating items and jewelry, there are more than 1,500 bird carvings, many of which are carved by some of the world’s best artists. Competitors of all levels, from youth to world champions, compete against their peers for the chance to win some of the $70,000 prize money, as well as recognition. There are 38 different divisions in which an artist can compete–decorative life-size and miniature wildfowl, floating waterfowl, interpretive, gunning decoys and contemporary antiques to name a few.

Bird carving has over the years become a truly international art form, with carvers from across the United States, Russia, Canada, Central America, Europe and Japan taking part in the competition. They all have one thing in common. Their artwork is inspired by the wildfowl they observe in nature.

 “Some of our carvers are avid birders and others avid hunters, but they share a love for this wonderful, collectible art form,” said Lora Bottinelli, executive director of the Ward Museum. “They observe the birds in their habitat and are fascinated by how they move, react and survive. Carvers try to capture the essence of a particular species in their sculptures and for some, their passion has become a vocation.”

Bottinelli said that many of the bird carvings are so lifelike that many people think they are real and imagine the artwork will at some point take flight.

Activities for children include being introduced to carvings entered in the competition by other youth, and watching decoys being judged on the bay and in tanks. There is also a special Kids’ Corner where kids can make soap carvings, carve a feather with power tools with instruction of a world champion carver and paint decoys, among other activities.

“April is also a great time to visit Ocean City,” said Bottinelli. “The prices are lower, restaurants have many specials, and there is room to explore before the summer crowds arrive, so it’s among the best times to visit.”

The show hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday. The awards ceremony starts at 5:00 p.m. Saturday. Sunday the show is held from 10a.m.-4 p.m.