Ocean City Today

Annual Ward World Championship

Art Festival and Wildfowl Carving Competition to draw 1,000 participants
By Kara Hallissey | Apr 26, 2018

(April 27, 2018) More than 1,000 pieces of wildfowl art created by carvers from all over the world will be featured in Ocean City this weekend during the 48th annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival hosted by Salisbury University.

Hundreds of species of wildfowl will be represented and displayed, from working decoys and bronze sculptures to decorative realist carvings and life-size or miniature renditions, at the convention center on 40th Street, Friday through Sunday.

More than 600 bird species in the United States and others from across the globe will be represented such as birds of prey, songbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds.

“It’s an amazing exhibition of the talent of artists and the beauty of nature,” said Lora Bottinelli, executive director of the Ward Museum in Salisbury. “You can meet the artists, see their work, learn about different species and shop. There are things for the entire family.”

Approximately 1,000 carvers from across the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Japan, England, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland, Barbados, and other places around the world generally compete for bragging rights, ribbons, cash prizes, trophies, medallions, certificates, high honors and publicity during the competition each year, Bottinelli said.

Artists of all levels, from novice, intermediate and advanced to world champions, will compete for a share of nearly $65,000 in prize money given out at the event.

Since the competition started nearly five decades ago, the Ward Championship has awarded carvers more than $2.6 million in prize money. An award ceremony will take place on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

“The world fish carving championship will be back this year,” Bottinelli said. “The feather category is extremely popular. We never know what will walk through the door.”

Renditions of birds are carved and replicated by using feathers in great detail with hundreds of carvings featured in the competitions from life-like to interpretive in a number of different categories, Bottinelli said.

At least 100 art and nature-themed vendors will have a variety of treasures for attendees or exhibitors to take home including paintings, photography, jewelry, carving and painting supplies, original artwork, novelty items, home decorating supplies, folk art, carvings and bronze sculptures.

In addition, attendees can purchase carvings and finished art from the artists at the Carvers’ Art Shop.

The Kid’s Corner will offer activities such as soap carving, painting miniature decoys and carving feathers using power tools.

They can also watch artist demonstrations from a champion carver and decoy painter.

Each year, hundreds of children in the youth division participate in silhouette carving. Children also have the option to paint next year’s silhouette at the Kids Corner.

In addition, there will be free demonstrations with trained birds of prey taking place off the dock of the convention center over Assawoman Bay.

The Ward Museum has recognized artists the last six years and Oliver “Tuts” Lawson, Robert Kerr and David Turner will all receive the 2018 Living Legend Award on Friday at the convention center with the presentation beginning at 5 p.m.

The award is given to advocates of wildfowl art and the Warm Museum who also pass on their knowledge, skills and talents to others.

“We honor carvers who have made contributions to our community,” Bottinelli said. “They will have displays in the convention center. People can see their work.”

She also said Lawson was integral in getting the Ward Foundation started and helped out the Ward brothers themselves. Kerr was influential in the start of carving competitions and Turner, who is known for his bronze sculpture work, has been a board of director and supportive of the museum.

Following the award presentation, a dinner will take place at the Grand Hotel on 21st Street from 6-8 p.m.

On Saturday, collectors will have the opportunity to bid on at least 80 original pieces donated by distinguished artists during a live auction.

New this year, the Wyoming Valley West High School marching band from Plymouth, Pennsylvania, will perform around 1:20 p.m.

Bidders can start registering at noon and the action will begin at 2 p.m. in Performing Arts Center in the convention center. Registration is free and there will be a cash bar.

Pieces include a sculpture print and hand-carved decoy, Bottinelli said.

A silent auction featuring four champagne waterfowl carvings will take place on Sunday beginning at 3 p.m.

There will also be educational classes and seminars taking place for an additional fee all three days including seminars on the color wheel and birds in their habitats, carving with wood, and painting large birds of prey.

The Ward World Championship attracts between 5,000 and 8,000 people each year between artists, volunteers and the public, Bottinelli said.

The event honors the Ward brother’s legacy, who were Eastern Shore decorative and decoy bird carving masters, she added.

In celebration of the Ward Museum’s 50th anniversary, Erick Sahler will have his limited serigraph prints for sale on Friday featuring Lem Ward’s 1965 “Show Goose,” the symbol of the Ward Museum. There will also be a three-minute profile piece video on the Ward Museum history shown throughout the weekend.

Admission to the World Championship costs $10 for a multi-day pass or $8 for seniors and students. Children under 12 get in free with an adult.

Visit the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival today, Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street.

Visit www.wardmuseum.org for more information or call 410-742-4988.

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