Scene from the Ocracoke Island Waterfowl Festival in 2019. Photo: P. Vankevich

The fourth annual Ocracoke Island Waterfowl Festival, produced by the nonprofit Ocracoke Island Decoy Carvers Guild, is set to take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 23.

Like last year, it will be in the village at the Berkley Barn, adjacent to Ocracoke’s Silver Lake harbor and the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum.

This year’s featured carver is islander John Simpson. He chose the Northern Pintail, which nests in freshwater marshes and prairie potholes and throughout much of northern North America and winters in large numbers on the Outer Banks.

More than 24 exhibitors will be on hand to display and sell their carvings, artwork and other theme-related works. T-shirts, festival posters, raffles and other items will be on sale and BBQ and local other treats will be available. Young folks will have the opportunity to partake in a decoy painting class and the adults in a head carving competition.

Founded in January 2018, the Ocracoke Island Decoy Carvers Guild quickly organized the first waterfowl festival that April.

The festival started with a tradition to honor a featured carver who chooses a species to celebrate. Past featured carvers are Nathan Spencer (Ring-necked Duck), Dan Robinson (Redhead) and Dave O’Neal (Greater Scaup).

Simpson is one of the founders of the guild and current president. He is an artist who, in addition to waterfowl, also carves the many species of shore birds that appear on Ocracoke Island.

The founders of the guild developed a love for decoy carving from their family members and friends and want to continue Ocracoke’s long, rich tradition of this folk art.

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