By Amelia Blades Steward
Many things happen behind the scenes that have made Easton’s annual Waterfowl Festival a success for over 50 years, raising over $5.7 million for wildlife and habitat conservation, education, and research. One of the organization’s successes has been its warehouse, which houses the infrastructure that transforms the town of Easton into an art festival worthy of national accolades.
This year, Darrell Doupnik of Easton will celebrate 35 years as the Festival’s Warehouse Chairman, organizing the tables, chairs, display backboards, signage, and ticket booth items – approximately 95 percent of the materials needed to support the Festival’s venues, including Easton High School, the Academy Art Museum, the Avalon Theatre, the Armory, the Elks Lodge, and the VFW.
He recalls when he started in 1988, the Festival was using a commercial moving company to move the materials required but soon found that using smaller trucks and trailers was a more efficient way to transport things around town from the Festival’s storage facilities in the Armory and on Goldsborough Street.
“I own Green Shore Landscaping and my smaller trucks and trailers were ideal for the job. Raymond Miller, the Warehouse Chairman at the time, asked if I could help that year and I have been helping ever since,” Darrell comments.
“It’s quite a project. We start the week before the Waterfowl Festival and probably move somewhere in the neighborhood of about 300 backboards, 800 tables and chairs, and a mixture of other displays over five days. The challenge is returning everything to the warehouse on the Sunday night after the Festival ends as most of it has to be returned in one day.”
Darrell uses a crew of about 22 men for the moves and accrues about 400 man-hours to accomplish the tasks required. Because of the backbreaking nature of the moves, workers are paid for the hours they work. The Festival eventually built a warehouse on Centreville Road in Easton to consolidate the materials, where 95 percent of the Festival’s items are stored today.
“The Waterfowl Festival means a lot to me personally because I’ve always been a local Eastern Shore guy, and I’ve always hunted waterfowl, and I love art – whether it’s sculpture, painting, or photography. I have volunteered with ticket sales at the VFW and have always enjoyed seeing people and making friends with the artists and other longtime volunteers,” Darrell adds.
“It takes a special person to do the job of coordinating all of the infrastructure of the Festival through our warehouse. Darrell has worked so successfully over the years with all of the various volunteer chairmen and has been an integral part of our success. He has created a very organized operation,” states Victoria Milhollan, Community Outreach Director for the Waterfowl Festival.
Ann White, who has served in various capacities with the Waterfowl Festival, including as the Festival’s first paid coordinator, echoes Victoria’s sentiments, stating, “Darrell is a major cog in the wheel that runs the Festival and has been so accommodating over the years in all the roles I have had.”
“It feels good to give back to the community. I’m not one for being in the limelight and I don’t need recognition. It has been great to be behind the scenes helping in this way for such a great cause,” Darrell concludes.