January 15, 2018
Ocracoke Island Decoy Carvers Guild Officially Formed
By PETER VANKEVICH
Ocracoke has a long,
rich tradition of decoy carving and now more people will learn about
it. The first organizational meeting of the newly formed Ocracoke
Island Decoy Carvers Guild met last Wednesday evening (Jan. 10) at the
Community Center. The Ocracoke Foundation sponsors this nonprofit
The brainstorm of John Simpson, Vince O’Neal, Dave
O’Neal, Dan and Scotty Robinson among others, the guild’s mission will
be to conserve and promote decoys of the area.
With open membership ($25 yearly), the guild
particularly encourages decoy carvers, whittlers, collectors and those
who would like to learn carving to join.
John Simpson gave an overview of how and why the
guild formed and some of their expected activities. “Waterfowling has
been a dramatic part of Ocracoke’s heritage and this folk art needs to
be kept from becoming a lost art,” he said.
He presented a slate of directors which included
himself as president; Vince O’Neal, vice-president; Scotty Robinson,
treasurer and Trudy Austin, Dave O’Neal and Dan Robinson as directors
at-large. The secretary position had no takers as of yet. The dozen or
so attendees unanimously approved the slate.
The guild selected a root head goose carved by Ike
O’Neal in the 1920s for their logo. These type decoys gets their name
because the head and neck are fashioned from fallen trees on the
island, primarily cedar.
The guild will sponsor the First Annual Ocracoke
Island Waterfowl Festival which will take place on Saturday, April 21
at the Ocracoke School gymnasium. Islander Dave O’Neal, owner of the
Down Point Decoy Gallery, will be this year’s featured carver. The
festival will have on display decoys, have raffles and presentations on
the art of carving and plenty of food. The exhibitor’s registration
form was handed out.
Monthly meetings will have specific topics and
presentations including on some of the historical island carvers and
suggestions for those interested in learning the techniques of
carving and whittling.
“We’ve been talking about organizing a group for
about 20 years”, said Vince O’Neal. “It’s so nice to see we finally
have it started.”
Eastern North Carolina has a long and proud
tradition of decoy carving and there are popular decoy festivals in the
region. This weekend, the Hyde County Waterfowl Association hosted the
8th Annual two-day Mattamuskeet Decoy & Waterfowl Festival at the
Mattamuskeet High School gym. The event kicked off with a Friday
evening banquet at the Davis School gym.
In December, The Core Sound Decoy Carvers Guild held its 30th Annual Core Sound Decoy Festival on Harkers Island.
Simpson singled out Casey Arthur, a Core Sounder
carver from Stacy, Carteret County, for providing encouragement and
advice. Arthur, a passionate carver and mentor, is a long-term member
and director of the Core Sound Decoy Carvers Guild and frequent visitor
In a telephone conversation, Arthur said he was
thrilled to see this new guild. “Ocracoke and Portsmouth islands have a
wonderful tradition of carving,” he said.
“Getting this group organized will greatly help
people learn and appreciate this art. We’ll be glad to help out
in any way we can.”
The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, in the Community Center. All are welcomed to attend.
For more information, contact John Simpson,
509-930-4988, Vince O’Neal, 252-921-0112, Scotty Robinson,
252-921-0410, or any guild board members.