EASTON — The Waterfowl Festival Board of Directors is proud to announce the outstanding artists and volunteers who have been nominated and inducted into Hall of Fame for 2020 — renowned sculptors William H. Turner and David H. Turner, former board member and Sculpture Gallery Chair Doug Collison, and former Festival Board President and Carving Gallery Chair Debbye Jackson, in memoriam.
“As Board President, one of the things I look forward to most during Waterfowl Festival week is the ceremony inducting the newest members into the Hall of Fame,” said Waterfowl Festival Board President Kevin Greaney. “While we had to postpone this year’s Festival, we didn’t want to delay this year’s class as each person has been a very important part of the success of the Festival for years. We will recognize the 2020 Hall of Fame recipients at next year’s Festival opening ceremonies but they are official awardees this year.”
Debbye Jackson had fond childhood memories of the Festival, and the Festival has many fond memories of her. Jackson truly climbed the ladder, starting out as the very first “Ducksitter,” when she would monitor exhibits as a child, so carving artists could take breaks. Her father, the late Festival co-founder Bill Perry, and others called her “Debbye the Ducksitter” and the name stuck. Today, youth volunteers are known as “ducksitters.”
Though Jackson would invest her efforts in multiple aspects of the Festival over her four decades of commitment, her love and passion always remained with the carvers and the Carving Gallery that showcases fine sculptures of bird life and waterfowl. She led the Carving Committee each year in searching out potential new carvers to include in the Festival, always wanting to balance the traditional with the up and coming. Jackson always demonstrated her commitment to the Festival’s carvers and volunteers — they knew that they were “her” people. She strove for success and quality in all that she did year after year leading her army of equally dedicated families year after year.
Jackson’s other favorite project was the William A. Perry Scholarship Fund, which provides annual scholarships to young people pursuing higher education. As a chairperson for the annual Decoy and Art Auction, held during the Festival’s Premiere Night, Jackson worked tirelessly to collect donations from carvers, painters and sculptors for this auction that supports the scholarship program. Named for Jackson’s father and with the requirement that applicants must be Festival youth volunteers, the scholarship fund has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships to more than 100 Ducksitters over its 24-year history in their educational endeavors and will continue to do so in Jackson’s memory.
After several terms on the Festival Board of Directors, Jackson stepped into office as president of the Waterfowl Festival board in 2018 with the goal of guiding the event through its 50th year celebration in 2020. She was excited for this opportunity and honor and had many creative ideas for the Festival’s future. Sadly for the Festival, her leadership was cut short by serious illness and her untimely passing earlier in 2020. Jackson’s legacy of creativity, insight and ideas will continue to shape the Festival — and many other organizations in the community — for years to come.
From setting up the Sculpture Tent to packing up when the festivities are over, chances are if you see Doug Collison during Festival weekend, his sleeves are rolled up. Nominated to the Hall of Fame by one of “his” artists, all visiting sculptors know they can depend on him if they run into any issues during the Festival.
“Doug’s priority is always the artists,” said Featured Art Chairman Kathy Dawkins. “First and foremost, he wants them to have a successful show.”
Doug also steps up to volunteer to help host the volunteer party, usually behind the bar to serve up drinks for a job well done. Aside from being hands-on during Festival weekend, Doug also has served multiple terms on the Waterfowl Festival Board of Directors and on Festival committees. He is the epitome of a volunteer leader for the event and the type of person organizers rely on year after year for the Festival’s success.
William H. Turner and David H. Turner
The Festival is a family tradition for many, but for father and son duo William H. and David H. Turner, that is even more the case than most. They are welcomed into the Hall of Fame for their dedication to both the Festival and their commitment to creating incredible bronze sculptures of Chesapeake Bay and other wildlife that showcase the intricacies of the region’s ecosystem.
Established in 1983, Turner Sculpture near Onley, Virginia, serves as the studio, foundry and gallery, where most of their work is displayed. To date the Turners have created more than 700 different limited edition bronzes and more than 100 large public commissions found throughout the United States. William, or “Doc” Turner, as he is known, first began making the drive up to Easton for the Festival in 1983. Since then, he and David Turner, a former wildlife biologist, have been some of the foundational artists in the annual sculpture gallery.
In 2017, the Festival chose David Turner as its Featured Artist for the 2016 Festival with his piece Tidewater Terrapin — a different subject matter choice for the Festival that highlighted the ways waterfowl and other Bay creatures are connected. It featured a graceful Diamondback Terrapin, Maryland’s state reptile, swimming mid-air above the Bay bottom of oysters and grasses. David’s work has always helped the Festival expand its horizons.
“Festival’s Hall of Fame awards offer well-deserved recognition to individuals who’ve consistently, and usually for many years, dedicated their time, effort and energy to making the Festival what it is today — an incredible showcase of wildlife art and valued celebration of our community,” said Waterfowl Chesapeake Executive Director Margaret Enloe. “We are humbled by the support that the Turners, Doug and Debbye have given the Festival for all these years and are pleased to honor them with this award.”