TUCKERTON – The 38th Annual Old Time Barnegat Bay Decoy and Gunning Show won’t quite be the same this year. It is going virtual.
The event’s hosts, the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently announced that this year, due to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis, the show will go virtual and all public events will be cancelled.
“This show is normally a two day event at Tip Seaman County Park in Tuckerton and it attracts thousands of people,” Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, Chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation said.
“Because of safety concerns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, we will not be holding the show this year but will bring some of the annual highlights to the public virtually. This allows us to continue to promote and recognize the traditions of the baymen,” Haines added.
As part of the online alternative to the 2020 show, the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, on Sept. 27 will post the judging of award presentations for six of the key contests traditionally held as part of the show.
Awards will be presented for:
- Barnegat Bay Gunning Decoy Contest – Traditional Division
- Barnegat Bay Gunning Decoy Contest – Contemporary Division
- Delaware River Gunning Decoy Contest
- Traditional Shorebird Decoy Contest
- Youth Gunning Decoy Contest
- Youth Shorebird Decoy Contest
Haines said, “the award presentation marks the culmination of every show and highlights the best of the best of the Barnegat Bay traditions. Even though we will not be gathered at the park to present the awards, we will recognize these winners virtually as we honor the heritage and tradition that comes from Barnegat Bay.”
The contest rules can be found on the Parks Department’s website: oceancountyparks.org. All entries must be registered by 10 a.m., Sept. 19. Judging will take place lakeside at Tip Seaman County Park. The contest venue will be open to judges and contestants registering carvings only.
Other awards normally presented at the show will be folded into the 2021 show including the Hurley Conklin Award – the highlight of the award presentation – which is awarded to individuals who have lived their lives in the traditions preserved by the show.
“As we prepare to give the public an idea of what this show annually entails, we will have archival videos and photos from past shows posted, along with new videos featuring interviews and topics related to decoys and other traditions of our region’s baymen,” Haines said.
Haines said she anticipates the 2021 Annual Old Time Barnegat Bay Decoy and Gunning Show will be one of the best ever and planning will be underway in the near future.
Traditionally the festival opens each day with skeet shooting. Competitions in carving, calling, retrieving and boat building fill the day, while music by Pinelands musicians is played at both the park and the nearby Tuckerton Seaport. The show usually attracts about 300 vendors that offer duck calls, sporting artwork, decorative carvings, model boats, guided hunt services, hunting dog supplies, and more.
“Through a series of competitions, exhibits and demonstrations, we are helping to preserve the heritage and traditions of the bay for years to come. The coronavirus will not preclude us from continuing to preserve this history. We hope everyone will join us online this year,” Haines said.
More details are available at OceanCountyParks.org or you can call 609-971-3085.