Tom Newell

La Conner master decoy carver Tom Newell, here in a 2018 photo, will take park Saturday in the Washington Brant Foundation’s Puget Sound Working Decoy Carving Competition at Maiben Park in Burlington.

BURLINGTON — The Washington Brant Foundation’s Puget Sound Working Decoy Carving Competition will make its return Saturday after a two-year hiatus.

The competition will be at Maiben Park in Burlington.

Carvers check in at 9 a.m., judging is from 10 a.m. to noon followed by the awards ceremony, live auction of decoys and other items, and the announcement of scholarship and raffle winners.

The competition boasts carvers from throughout the country.

Classes include Brant, Open Working, Youth/Novice and Mini.

Marty Hanson of Hayward, Wisconsin, will be the headliner of the event.

“His decoys are incredible,” said Washington Brant Foundation Founder Maynard Axelson. “He is the hottest carver in the country right now and to have him come out here to our event is amazing.”

Hanson is the subject of the documentary “The Craft — The Marty Hanson Story” due out this summer.

A portion of the documentary was filmed locally.

“He (Hanson) was here in December with a film crew out of Montana to get footage of him hunting in Samish Bay over a spread of his hand-carved decoys,” Axelson said. “They shot a little footage here at my place and quite a bit at Jay Koetje’s (private) decoy museum on Fir Island.”

Axelson said Hanson carved a couple mini decoys for the event’s auction.

“They are incredible,” Axelson said. “Really, his decoys are works of art.”

Also competing will be world champion Tom Newell of La Conner and master carver Brad Snodgrass from Oregon.

Chris Nicolai of the Delta Waterfowl Foundation in Bismark, North Dakota, will also be in attendance. Besides being a renowned carver, Nicolai is an acclaimed researcher of waterfowl.

Working class decoys means they are to be used, and judging of those decoys will be done in a large, water-filled tank.

“The decoys will be dropped in and have to self-right,” Axelson said. “Then the judges will look very closely at them.”

There will be displays by the Washington Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited as well by various outdoor and decoy vendors from throughout the region.

Funds generated support the foundation’s scholarship program, field research and public outreach, including decoy carving classes offered through the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department.

“We want people to come out and while you can’t really get a feel for these decoys while they float in a tank, those who are interested in decoys and carvings should take the time to talk to the carvers,” Axelson said. “To learn all they can from some extremely talented individuals.”

— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181,, Twitter:@goskagit,

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