Since the first show way back in 1971, the Ward World Championship has been expanding the potential of wildfowl carving.
Left: Steve Ward greets Amanada Blake (Gunsmoke’s Miss Kitty) in 1975. Right: Lem Ward (center) judges decoys at the 1976 competition with Paul Marshall and Corb Reed.
In October 1968, a group of residents from Salisbury, Maryland, attended the Atlantic Flyway Wildfowl Carving and Art Exhibit, a show held in a crowded church hall in Chestertown, Maryland. On the way home, the conversation turned to the possibility of hosting a larger show in Salisbury. Salisbury contractor Knute Bartrug called the group that set out to organize that exhibition "the tennis bunch." Bartrug, Bill Riordan, Fred Kreiser, Morris Polk, and others had been organizing professional tennis tournaments in Salisbury, but they were finding it difficult to compete with larger markets. Since some of them had started carving and collecting decoys, it seemed natural to use their tournament experience to promote decoy art.
This article is from the Spring 2010 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.