Decoy Festival, War of 1812 draw visitors to HdG for big weekend
By AEGIS STAFF REPORT
May 01, 2014 | 11:17 AM
Thousands of people will flock to Havre de Grace this weekend for one of Harford County's biggest events of the year, when the 33rd annual Decoy and Wildlife Art Festival returns for three days.
The event includes more than 140 artists exhibiting their work, food and children's activities, live and silent auctions, retriever demonstrations and carving competitions.
Also in Havre de Grace this weekend is the 201st anniversary of the British attack on Havre de Grace with a day full of reenactments and lectures.
In its 33rd year, the Decoy Festival is the biggest single fundraiser of the year for the Decoy Museum.
"It's very popular because it's one of the few opportunities you can get a bunch of different carvers together," Mindy Elledge, the museum's finance director, said. "The community expects it, the city expects it. It brings a lot of people into town to experience other things going on in Havre de Grace, too."
Hours of the Decoy Festival are 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Decoy Museum, Havre de Grace Middle School and Havre de Grace Activity Center. Free shuttle buses are available to all show sites and downtown Havre de Grace.
This year, Master Falconer Al Jordan, of Rochester, N.Y., one of the country's leading experts in raptors, will host a bird of prey discussion and demonstration at 11 a.m. at the gazebo next to the activity center.
On Saturday and Sunday, Final Glide Championship Calls will conduct a seminar on "Field Calling" Ducks and Geese, as well as some duck and goose decoy rig setups. Visit their website, 222.finalglide.com.
Saturday's decoy auction features nearly 60 decoys, including a pair of early mini-mallards carved by Jimmy Pierce, a canvasback pair by Charlie Joiner in 1992, a mini mallard drake carved by Charles Jobes in 1986 and a shingle head plaque carved by R. Madison Mitchell. Proceeds from the auction, which begins at 5:30 p.m. (the preview begins at 2 p.m.), benefits the Decoy Museum.
The carvers enjoy the festival because they can swap decoys and compare notes.
"It's a social event for them, but it's also an opportunity for the community to come in and see what's going on in the Decoy Capital of the World," Elledge said.
In recent years, the festival had expanded to include people interested in waterfowl hunting, "since clearly they use decoys," she said. There is also an environmental focus, that if the habitat isn't preserved, there won't be anything to hunt.
"We give a broad range of things to come and see," Elledge said.
On May 3, 1813, Great Britain's Rear Adm. Sir George Cockburn, "renowned sea-going commando of the Napoleonic Wars," launched a raid on Havre de Grace that burned at least 40 buildings and killed one American.
It was one of many attacks Cockburn conducted over 18 months up and down the Chesapeake Bay.
"Using Spesutia as a forward base, Cockburn's forces first sailed up the Elk River to Frenchtown, near Elkton, which they burned. On their way back down the river, they said, subsequently, they were fired upon from Havre de Grace – at least 10 miles away," according to "Havre de Grace: An Informal History," published in 1986 and written by Peter A. Jay and profiled in The Aegis 25 years ago this week to commemorate the anniversary of the attack.
Cockburn felt it necessary to retaliate and punish Havre de Grace.
The 201st anniversary of the attack will be remembered Saturday with period re-enactors, lecturers, music and games from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace at the Lock House. Entry is $3 per person (free for children under 12).
Units participating include the British Royal Marines, the Royal Navy Medical/Splints & Splices, Frederick Militia, Aesquith's Sharpshooters, Baltimore United volunteers and Ft. McHenry Guard and Junior Fife and Drum Corps.
The anniversary kicks off at 10 a.m., with a re enactor demonstration from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., with a story time and craft from 11 to 11:30. A Fort McHenry Star-Spangled Banner presentation is set for 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by music by Kaydence until 2:30 p.m. From 1 to 2 p.m., Capt. Jamie Trost, of the Pride of Baltimore II, will give a lecture titled "Privateers on the Bay."
The remainder of the afternoon will include 1812 games from 2 to 2:30 p.m., re enactor demonstrations from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and another story time and craft from 3:30 to 4 p.m.