The 7th Annual Outer Banks Seafood Festival featured a little bit of rain this year, and the verdict is in—a little bit of rain will not stop a few thousand people from showing up in Nags Head to celebrate the history, culture, and food of the area.
As rainy days go, it wasn’t much, just a few off and on again showers, and judging by the size of the crowd and some comments from the restaurants that were serving food, if attendance was down, it was barely noticeable.
Among the Outer Banks festivals, the Seafood Fest is one of our favorites. There is so much to like about it that it’s a bit difficult to know where to start.
Although the food is as good a place as any to begin—and the food is probably the reason most people buy their SeaBucks at the entrance gate.
There were 11 restaurants on hand this year. With many selections available, it’s a good idea to acknowledge at the outset that trying everything is not possible—especially because almost all the restaurants offer two or three fresh seafood dishes as well as few desserts.
After attending a number of Outer Banks Seafood Festivals, the strategy we have devised is to go with a group of friends and sample small amounts of as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to eat a very light breakfast.
Choosing a favorite is near impossible. The Shrimp and Corn Chowder from Dirty Dick’s was perfect for a slightly rainy day. But the Shrimp Stuffed Pretzel from Proof Bakery was awfully good as well. And then there was the Oyster Stew from Greentails—done very traditionally and loaded with obviously fresh oysters.
That list just keeps on going and going, and to a significant extent, as we have learned, favorites are based on personal taste.
What makes this seafood festival so memorable, however, is how much there is to do beyond the food.
This is one gathering that, if the seafood isn’t tempting, go for the music.
Featuring the Dr. Tom Band with Leslie Buck, No More Room, and headliner The Main Event Band, the music was a trip back in time to the 60s, 70s, and 80s…and done very well.
The Main Event Band bills themselves as the ultimate party band, and they are very good. Excellent vocals, combined with saxophone and trumpet really set them apart.
The band did take a break in their two-hour set, and festival organizers brought local blues artist EZ Malone on stage.
EZ can usually be found sitting somewhere outside of an Outer Banks business, playing his guitar with the case open waiting for donations. His style is pure blues when he’s hanging out at a shopping mall, but at the festival, he played everything from Al Green jazz, to country, to Jimi Hendrix.
With the festival spread out across the Nags Head Event Site, there was plenty of room to move around—and a lot to do when taking a break from eating or the music.
One of the features that make the Seafood Festival so nice is how family oriented it is.
When the music was playing there always seemed to be some kids dancing in front of the stage. Sometimes alone, sometimes with their parents.
Children & Youth Partnership of Dare County always sets up a tent and there consistently seems to be eight or ten preschool children sitting at the tables creating…something.
There are also some great activities for a little bit older kids as well, although everyone’s favorite is more an activity for kids of all ages: the Mullet Toss.
The object is to throw a mullet as far as possible. Seems simple except, well, mullet is not very aerodynamic…and it’s a bit slimy. Still, there were some tosses of good distance, a few of them even made it past the designated area.
The mullet retrievers seemed to alternate between kids and commercial fisherman Jake Griffin’s retriever Renegade.
Jake was there with Renegade demonstrating how a seine net was strung, helping people to understand the differences among various nets.
“This net’s for spot,” he said, pointing out the size of the webbing.
Jake, though, was just one of a number of fishermen who were on hand, including his father, Captain Charlie “Grif” Griffin, Wicked Tuna Outer Banks captain of Reels of Fortune, as well as the other three captains who represent the Outer Banks on the show.
In addition to the fishermen, a number of organizations and groups who support commercial fisherman were at the festival. And when it was time to take a break from eating and throwing mullet, there were quite a few local artists and crafters who had set up booths on the south side of the site.
The third Saturday in October for 2019 is October 19; it’s probably not to early start planning to attend. The Outer Banks Seafood Festival is truly a must do event!