I’ve attended the annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland, countless times—it’s become a fall tradition I look forward to every year. The event draws upwards of 20,000 visitors to Talbot County for three days of Eastern Shore wildlife, sporting heritage, art, food, children’s programming, and more. It’s lively, a bit quirky, and just downright fun.
The Waterfowl Festival will be held from November 10-12, 2023. $25 gets you access to all three days of events, and kids ten and under get in free!
To get you excited (because trust me, you don’t want to miss this), I’m sharing eight things you won’t want to miss at the Waterfowl Festival:
The dock diving competition is hands down one of the most fun parts of the festival. Some dogs leap off the dock into the elevated pool while others chicken out at the edge.
Regardless of pup courage levels, the competition is incredibly entertaining and provides endless laughs. This is a can’t-miss event for dog lovers.
World championship duck and goose calling competitions
If you’ve never seen a calling competition, it’s pretty insane to watch. Callers either imitate the natural sound of a whole flock of ducks or geese, or they imitate the calls they would use to bring a flock of geese into decoys.
You might see team members calling back and forth to create realistic scenarios or an individual caller performing a range of sounds. Watching people who are the very best in their craft is an inspiring experience.
The tasting pavilion
If your idea of a good time involves a tasty Maryland-made beer, wine, or spirit, the tasting pavilion is the place for you. Warm up in the craft beverage tent and get to know some of the locals.
Art, art, and more art
You could spend the whole time at the festival wandering the various art exhibits. From beautifully carved nature-themed sculptures to artifact exhibits of old boats and beautifully painted outdoor art from some of the best artists in the region, there’s no shortage of Eastern Shore art to appreciate here.
Fly fishing casting lessons
The fly fishing casting lessons are one of my personal favorites from the festival. I came to the demonstration years ago when I was just getting into the sport. I wanted to work on my casting and meet some like-minded fishing folk. I met Brett Gaba, who had just finished writing his book “Fly Fishing the Tidewaters of the Chesapeake Bay” and have been inspired by his work ever since. These kinds of interactions keep me coming back year after year to the festival, and I can’t imagine I will ever get bored of it.
The retriever demonstrations are another must-see. Stop by the Bay Street Ponds to watch dogs find and retrieve items on their trainer’s command.
Are you bringing your kids along to the Waterfowl Festival? This fun and educational event for all ages reveals how wooden decoys on the Eastern Shore were created in the past.
I overlooked this activity for years and thoroughly enjoyed it when I finally gave it a try. I will certainly be back this year.
Kids fishing derby
Right beside the fly casting lessons and retriever demonstrations, you’ll find two ponds stocked with rainbow trout by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Kids will learn about setting up fishing rods and what bait to use. Plus, the fishing derby offers a rare opportunity for your kids to enjoy pretty easy pickings, and it’s a guaranteed good time.
Watching dogs jump into a pool, slurping crab soup, and watching the best duck and goose callers in the world compete are just a small part of what this special event has to offer. What will you discover at the Waterfowl Festival?
Lead Photo: Courtesy of the Waterfowl Festival
Learn how to blow a call at the Children’s Calling Clinic
About the Author
Dylan Taillie is an environmental scientist who was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His favorite trips involve discovering new things about the natural world around where he lives and sharing Maryland with the people he loves. Follow Dylan’s fly fishing adventures on Instagram @Dylightful.