Easton should be a popular spot next weekend, with wildlife devotees flocking to town in large numbers for the annual Waterfowl Festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary from Friday to Sunday.
The festival is a showcase for renowned waterfowl painters, carvers and photographers. Last year's festival drew over 500 exhibitors. Their work ranged in price from $40 prints to $40,000 carvings. Waterfowl paintings exhibited for sale in the Tidewater Inn's Gold Room go for $700 or as much as $5,000. In the Blue Room at the B.P.O.E. Elks Club on Dutchman's Lane, you'll find original waterfowl art priced under $600.
Some of the weekend highlights are the decoy auction at 2 p.m. Saturday at Easton High School and the World Championship Goose Calling Contest and Mason-Dixon Regional Duck Calling Contest, both scheduled at the school at 7 p.m. Saturday.
If you wish to observe carvers and artists at work, you can do so at the firehouse on Aurora Park Drive. Their work will be for sale. Collectors of antique decoys and waterfowl-related memorabilia will gather at Easton High School to buy, sell and swap a variety of waterfowl items, decoys and rare books. New this year is an exhibit of collector books by celebrated wildlife artists at the Avalon Theatre. Some of the artists will put in periodic appearances for book signings.
Other events of interest are retriever demonstrations at the ponds on Bay Street at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels welcomes festival ticket holders to its permanent exhibits during the weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum will also hold waterfowl demonstrations at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Academy of the Arts, South and Harrison streets, offers the exhibit "Decoy Art: Fifteen Perspectives." And what better time to visit Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge than during the fall migration. The refuge is off Route 335 at Church Creek, south of Cambridge. Its wildlife drive is open daily from dawn until dusk. Admission is $3 per vehicle. Call (301) 228-2677.
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free shuttle buses will be available to transport visitors between exhibits and to parking areas. Tickets cost $8 for one day or $20 for three days. Children 14 and under accompanied by an adult are admitted free. Proceeds will be used to benefit waterfowl conservation projects. Over the years the festival has contributed more than $2 million to waterfowl conservation and education organizations from North Carolina to New Brunswick, Canada.
For information, call (301) 822-4567.no answer
Once again it's time to turn our thoughts to Christmas shopping. For those who find it a chore, here are some ideas that could change your mind. Take a drive to Middleburg in the heart of jTC Virginia hunt country. It's a charming town to visit in any season, but this week from Wednesday to Saturday the 41st annual Middleburg Christmas Shop will bring 60 shops from across the country, South America and England to town for a four-day benefit, sponsored by Emmanuel Episcopal Church.
The Christmas Shop will be located in the Middleburg Community Center, 300 W. Washington St. (U.S. 50), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. It will feature thousands of items for every taste and budget. You'll find hand-painted and molded chocolates, English cricket sweaters, original historical and decorative art and prints, children's accessories and toys, fine men's and women's clothing, gourmet foods, carvings and tapestries from South America, needlepoint and antiques from England and American Indian jewelry from Sante Fe, N.M. The Christmas Shop's cafe will offer a continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
Admission is $1 for adults, free for children under 12. Proceeds will be used to benefit various area charities, including handicapped children, homeless shelters, a shelter for abused women, hospice services and others.
For information, call (703) 687-6297.
Fairfield, Pa. (near Gettysburg), will be another mecca for Christmas shoppers this week. The annual International Gift Festival at the Fairfield Mennonite Church from Thursday to Saturday attracts visitors from all over the region.
Now in its 29th year, the festival is held to benefit needy Third World artisans. For three days the Fairfield church becomes an international bazaar with crafts from more than 35 countries in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. This year's bazaar will feature Haitian folk paintings, brightly colored enameled trays, Haitian doll furniture, wooden salad bowls, cutting boards and baskets.