Our History

How the Decoy Guild began….

A group of carvers got together
To try to create a wooden feather;
With a knife and a hatchet, to see if they could
Make a real bird out of a piece of wood.

A real bird they couldn’t make,
But an old decoy they did create.
And when them old carvers are gone on their way,
That old decoy will be there to stay.

And if later, someone looking at that old piece of wood,
Would say, I know who carved that, he was pretty — good!
Then it would all be worth those lonely days
Knowing, although we’ve gone, part of us stays.

Wayne Davis

The Guild started as an idea Wayne Davis and David Lawrence, natives of Harkers Island, NC, had talked about for years.  They both carved decoys, as did many others Down East and throughout Carteret County, and they had traveled to the decoy shows in Virginia Beach and Chincoteague, Virginia, and Currituck, North Carolina, among others.  They wondered if there would be enough interest to get together with other local carvers on a regular basis to swap techniques and carving tips, and have a little decoy show once a year.

So when a group of seven men gathered at Wayne’s house on August 11, 1987 to celebrate his birthday, they decided to start a carver’s guild.  Between mouthfuls of stewed clams, made by Wayne’s wife, Lana, they settled on the name, the Core Sound Decoy Carvers Guild, and sketched out a plan to get in touch with all the local carvers and decoy collectors they knew.  The group agreed to meet again the following month, on the third Wednesday in September.

Those seven men were Wayne Davis, David Lawrence, Gregory Lupton, Curt Salter, Norman Hancock, Carl Huff, and James Gordon Salter.  They voted Wayne as President, Gregory, Vice-President, and David, Secretary-Treasurer.  Before the first official meeting that September, they called in two additional local carvers, Roy Willis and Gerald Davis, which increased the number of the original Board of Directors to nine.

At the first regular Guild meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 1987, a group of around 30 people, mostly Carteret County decoy carvers and collectors, met in the library of the Harkers Island Elementary School. They listened as Wayne outlined the plan for monthly meetings and a decoy show.  All immediately joined the newly formed Guild.

Together, they brainstormed a date for a show.  There were already scheduled decoy shows nearly every weekend from the end of August until December, either in NC or in neighboring states.  Eventually they decided the first full weekend in December would be the date of their first show. Since there was no way they could plan and execute a show in just two months, the first Core Sound Decoy Festival was planned for December 3 and 4, 1988.

Well, that’s almost how it was….if you look at a poster from the first or second year’s show, you can see that the Core Sound Decoy Festival was originally called the Core Sound Waterfowl Festival.  But, that name ran a-fowl of “The Waterfowl Festival” in Easton, Maryland.  So, rather than invite the ire of the well-established festival to the north, beginning with the third show, the name was officially changed to Core Sound Decoy Festival, and that is how it continues to be known today.