Visitors to Havre de Grace could immerse themselves Saturday in all things related to hunting waterfowl along the Chesapeake Bay for the 36th annual Havre de Grace Decoy & Wildlife Art Festival, including paintings of waterfowl, tables laden with wooden decoys and demonstrations with hunting dogs.
"As you can see, they're very energetic," Abingdon resident Sean Fritzges said of his 5-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Louie, as the dog bounded about after fetching and returning a plastic training toy meant to represent a duck or a goose brought down by a hunter.
Fritzges and his dog took part in a hunting dog demonstration on the front lawn of Havre de Grace Middle School, one of three sites for the Decoy Festival, along with the Havre de Grace Activity Center and the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum.
The festival is the primary annual fundraiser for the Decoy Museum, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in January. The festival started Friday and continues Sunday.
Visitors could take in food, children's activities, decoy carving and waterfowl calling competitions, silent auctions, as well as the dog demonstrations.
Fritzges and four other dog owners had their canines run across the field to one of two mock duck blinds, or to a group of fake geese, pick up the plastic toy and bring it back while following whistle and hand signals.
The five dogs included two Chesapeake retrievers, two Labrador retriever and one golden retriever, according to Flip Jennings, of Delta Dogs, the lead organizer.
Jennings, a Havre de Grace resident, has been running dog demonstrations at the Decoy Festival for about a dozen years.
"I would say it's well looked forward to by the attendees," he said.
A small group of people watched the demonstration Saturday under dark, cloudy skies. Jennings said it usually draws larger crowds, but he suspected the weather was keeping people away — he noted a demonstration scheduled for earlier Saturday was canceled because of poor attendance.