Eastern Waterfowl Festival

Havre de Grace Decoy Museum Director C. John Sullivan Jr., an authority on waterfowling history, was inducted into the Easton Waterfowl Festival's hall of fame Thursday afternoon. (Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, Homestead Publishing / November 9, 2012)

C. John Sullivan Jr., director of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, was inducted into the Easton Waterfowl Festival's Hall of Fame as part of the 42nd annual festival that began Thursday.

Sullivan, 66, was recognized for his "significant support of the Festival" and for his "major impact" on the wildfowl art world, according to an article by Peter Howell in this year's official festival guide.

A collector of waterfowl art and waterfowling artifacts, Sullivan is also considered among the few waterfowling historians, according to the guide article.

"It's quite an honor," he said earlier this week. "When I learned about this during the summer, I got very excited. It's an wonderful honor."


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The induction ceremony was held in Easton's historic Avalon Theater Thursday afternoon.

A Fallston native, who lives just outside Bel Air, Sullivan has been collecting waterfowl art and artifacts since he got his first decoy at age 13. He quickly developed a passion for waterfowl art.

In the ensuing years, he's amassed a personal collection of decoys, paintings, cartridge boxes, photographs and other artifacts from the world of waterfowling.

He's also written six books on waterfowling history, mostly focused on the Chesapeake Bay region, and speaks frequently on the subject at universities, as well as for historical societies and conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited.

Sullivan took over leadership of the Decoy Museum in July 2011, following his retirement from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, where he served as state director under the last two governors. Previously he served as Harford County's director of assessments for nearly 30 years.

Shortly before his retirement from state government, Sullivan was named a Chesapeake Bay Ambassador by his boss, Gov. Martin O'Malley, in recognition of Sullivan's contributions in chronicling the history, art and traditions of waterfowling.

He's also received numerous awards for showing parts of his collection in various waterfowl art competitions.

Sullivan has a longtime association with the Easton Waterfowl Festival, where he has been an artifacts exhibitor and has, from time to time, introduced a new discovery about waterfowling history, "which has enhanced the Festival's prestige," according to the guide article.

"I have participated in the show for decades," he said. "I did a lot of buying, selling, swapping and participated in the historic artifacts section with artifacts displays."

"I'm the first person with an artifacts collecting background to join the hall of fame, which makes this honor particularly special," Sullivan said, noting the majority of the other hall of fame members are carvers and other waterfowl artists. He said he's not tried his hand at carving, even though he has extensive knowledge about decoys, not to mention a significant personal collection.

And, despite his extensive knowledge about waterfowling and its history, Sullivan said he is an infrequent hunter himself, going maybe "a couple of times" a year. Most of the hunting in his family is done by his son, C. John Sullivan III, and his two grandsons, who he proudly said are quickly learning the joys of being outdoors and participating in the sport.