1rst annual Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival

Bill Hitchcock

hydecoSmallThe first annual Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday November 21st and 22nd, 2009 at Mattamuskeet High School in Swan Quarter, NC. The festival is sponsored by the Hyde County Waterfowl Association and local organizations such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Ponzer and Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Departments, Hyde County Young Professionals and Mattamuskeet High School.

The festival will feature the Mattamuskeet duck, goose and swan calling competition, carvers, antique decoys, books and local waterfowl art, antique tractors, the NC Wildlife Commission’s Safari Trailer, a retriever demonstration and tours of the Lake and wildlife refuge. A variety of locally prepared foods will be well worth the trip alone.

The event will celebrate the heritage of waterfowling in the midst of one of North Carolina’s greatest and still untouched refuges for waterfowl and wildlife. The event pays homage to a heritage that remains strong. Hyde County has been called “The Road Less Traveled” – major highways and pocket urbanization has not found their way to this wide open wilderness of farms, waterways, forests and tidewater shores.

The festival grounds are next to Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina’s largest natural lake. Writes Jack Dudley, author of several books on North Carolina waterfowl heritage and decoys; “According to lore and legend, Mattamuskeet is an Indian name, meaning “bad dust” or “much dust,” probably in reference to the sandy regions near the lake. Early white settlers translated Mattamuskeet as meaning “moving swamp.” After futile plans and efforts to drain the lake in the early 1900s, the lake returned to its natural state. In 1934 the federal government acquired the lake and much of the adjoining property and created Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. The geese and ducks came in droves”.

“Waterfowling was a part of the lake’s history long before the arrival of European explorers. The Indians and early white settlers were subsistence hunters. Through the years there are stories of bountiful game, particularly the Canada goose. The region is steeped in sporting heritage; the adventuresome sportsmen would “go where the game was.” Lake Mattamuskeet became the premier spot along the Atlantic Flyway for geese, and professional guiding became a way of life. Since the beginning of recorded history, the Canada goose has reigned supreme over the lake and Hyde County. Today the famed Mattamuskeet Lodge stands as a testament to the golden era of waterfowling”.

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Author’s Yougler Profile is at  Bill Hitchcock.

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