Almost 16,000 people came to the 39th Annual Waterfowl Festival last weekend where volunteers and staff managed the first exhibit relocations in at least 14 years. This year’s festival opened under merciless rains that drowned fields at both the Elk’s Lodge and at Easton High School, which forced the DockDogs competition to the grounds of the old Cadmus building and the Sportsman Pavilion inside that building. That marked the first time in 14 years that weather prompted exhibit relocation.
Preliminary counts Sunday night showed 15-percent higher attendance and 10-percent more sales this year than last year, attributed to better weekend weather and decreased ticket prices. Tickets had not cost $10 since 1992. Festival organizers reduced the ticket price to encourage attendance in a difficult economy.
The addition of a Miniature Master’s Gallery, a collection of smaller, more affordable pieces housed at the Academy of the Art Museum, was another nod to the economy. The Miniature Master’s Gallery saw 21 pieces sold, with another two sold out of the Master’s Gallery. Academy volunteer Anne Foss described those sales as a lot compared to last year.
The three-day Festival typically draws between 13,000 and 15,000 people, has about 1,500 volunteers and infuses millions of tourist dollars into the local economy. The Waterfowl Festival has given more than $5-million from its events to projects that benefit habitat, education or research. Last year, the festival gave more than $90,000 to support nine projects, including the restoration of the Bay Street Ponds, which the festival owns.