Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
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Matt Markey

Waterfowl art headlines the show at Pearson Metropark festival

  • Decoy-carving

    Gary Hanson’s three-bird rig was named best in its class at the 2017 Maumee Bay Carvers Annual Decoy Show and Competition. This year’s event takes place on Sunday at Pearson Metropark.

    Maumee Bay Carvers

  • CARVERS-start-to-finish

    A model of the decoy carving process from start to finish is on display as members of the Maumee Bay Carvers meet.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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    In 2015, Bob Lund, President the Ohio Decoy Collectors and Carvers Association, left, Karen Higgins, of Wood County, center left, Ted Fisher, of Wauseon, center right, and Larry DeVries, of Maumee, right, joke together as they each work on their wooden decoy carving.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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When you combine the 38th Maumee Bay Carvers Annual Decoy Show and Competition with the Toledo Metroparks 2018 Waterfowl Festival, what you get is a solid dose of art, history, science, canine skills, conservation, and wetlands appreciation — plus one more reason to celebrate the tremendous resource that is Lake Erie.

Pearson Metropark will host this ultimate outdoors extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. It is one of the showcase events for the carvers, whose craft reinforces our timeless connection with the lake and its role as an ideal host habitat for a multitude of waterfowl species.

Visitors will get the opportunity to view a range of work from the carvers, from the traditional hunting-style decoys to those that require many hours of highly-detailed work to replicate every subtle tone and feature of various waterfowl and shorebirds. In the competition, carvers enter their working decoys and shorebirds, and after the judging prizes will be awarded that include cash, rosettes, and ribbons.

“Carvers from throughout Michigan and Ohio enter their hunting-style duck decoys and shorebirds to compete,” said Steve Secord, president of the Maumee Bay Carvers group. “It's a free, family-friendly, jam-packed day of everything outdoors, and dogs are welcome.”

As part of the festival, there will be a demonstration of champion hunting retrievers put on by the Ohio Hunting Retriever Club. People attending the event are encouraged to bring their dog and see how it might perform in the retrieving tests.

In the decoy competition, the carved creations or working decoys, the style used for more than a century by waterfowl hunters, will be floated in the pond at the park or in tanks so the judges can critique their appearance and performance, and determine how likely the decoys would work to attract waterfowl. The shorebirds also are displayed and judged by category.

“We welcome carvers of all skill levels,” Secord said. “The decoys and shorebirds range from simplistic hunting style designs to ornately decorative forms that are often hard to determine from the actual live bird.”

The carvers competing in the event are required to register from 8 to 10 a.m., with the judging to begin soon after the registration period. The rules and guidelines for the competition can be viewed at maumeebaycarvers.com.

The local chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be on hand to explain the vital importance of wetlands conservation and the critical role duck hunting has played in preserving, protecting, and expanding the marshes and wetlands along Lake Erie. Staff from the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge also will present information about wetlands protection and restoration projects in the region.

Representatives from the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Division of Watercraft will provide information on hunter education, waterfowl hunting, boats and gear, and answer questions on pertinent topics. There also will be food available for purchase from Scout Troop 131.

Archery and canoe rides will be part of the program of fun, education and enjoyment, along with a taxidermy exhibit and a waterfowl identification contest at the park. Pearson Metropark is located at 761 South Lallendorf Road in Oregon, just north of State Rt. 2.

Expect the carvers’ show and competition to wow those who have never witnessed this unique and richly historical art form. Secord also said he hopes the event will serve as an introduction to interested parties of any age to get involved in carving.

“Over 38 years ago, the Maumee Bay Carvers Association was organized with the purpose to promote, preserve, and mentor the art form and tradition of carving and painting waterfowl,” he said.

Secord added the club invites every skill level, from beginner to advanced carver, to attend the free Wednesday carve-along sessions at the Woodcraft Store, 5311 Airport Highway, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Carvers are encouraged to bring along a current project, or just attend for the abundance of carving tips and advice offered by experienced carvers.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com, or 419-724-6068.

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