North Carolina Seafood Festival
North Carolina Seafood Festival
If you want to continue the coastal seafood celebration, then make plans to attend the North Carolina Seafood Festival, held each year in October. The Seafood Festival is held on the waterfront in Morehead City and lives up to its name as a true celebration of all the delicious ways to enjoy fresh North Carolina seafood.
The North Carolina Seafood Festival is a non-profit organization of Carteret County citizens and businesses, in conjunction with the Town of Morehead City. Recognizing the importance of seafood to eastern North Carolina, the Seafood Festival was developed to promote the positive social and economic impact of the seafood industry on the citizens of North Carolina, educate the public about seafood and its importance to the state economy, and publicize the wide variety of seafood indigenous to North Carolina. Not to mention, the Seafood Festival gives folks from all over the opportunity to enjoy fresh fare from North Carolina. Festival proceeds are shared with community organizations who donate their efforts to the event. Since 1987, over $1.8 million has been dispersed among participating Carteret County non-profit groups.
For attendees, a weekend of free entertainment from nationally known recording artists to street clowns begins on Friday night and continues through the close of the festival on Sunday afternoon. Entertain the whole family by visiting all three stages, each featuring continuous acts for attendees to enjoy. There is plenty of seating on the bleachers or in the grass, making this a great place to listen to the music while eating some of the best seafood North Carolina has to offer. You can also enjoy the music while having cold refreshments in the nearby Oyster Rock Pub.
The entertainment ranges from the traditional music of the Menhaden Chanteymen, rugged sailors who worked the seas pulling the nets filled with the day's catch aboard the first commercial fishing boats, to country music featuring local artists and nationally known singers, and pop music for today's teenagers. Nationally known performers at past seafood festivals have included Blake Shelton, Tracy Byrd, Ryan Cabrera and The Spinners, among others. Come early, stay late, and be ready to enjoy the best entertainment on the beach.
While at the festival, visitors are amazed at the number of vendors and artisans offering their handmade goods for sale. Many of the vendors are local civic organizations, school groups and church members who use the festival as the main source of raising funds for their annual projects. Photography, painting, glass blowing and molding, wood carvings, wall hangings and pottery are just a few of the arts and crafts you can expect to find along the streets of Morehead City during the festival. Even though the festival attracts well over 150,000 visitors, parking is so abundant and close to the event that you can carry your prized purchases to the car within minutes and return so as not to miss any of the events. Be sure to stop by the festival booth for apparel, posters and other items unique to each year's event.
In addition to having a special playground area set up just for kids, the festival also hopes to educate those of all ages on the delicate North Carolina fishing industry. Featuring children's programs and activities, teacher resources, interactive exhibits and demonstrations, along with live animals, storytelling and seafood sampling, the Festival gives every generation something to enjoy and learn.
The rich cultural traditions of eastern North Carolina come together with music, craftsmen, artists, storytellers, boat builders, net hangers, crab pot makers, quilters, decoy carvers, oar makers and more who share their crafts of yesterday and today.
From traditional "Down East" Clam Chowder, Shrimp Burgers and Charcoal Mullet to Sea Urchin on a stick, Calamari and Marinated Eel, there is something for all to taste at the Seafood Festival. Friday night starts with a Habitat for Humanity Fish Fry. Saturday and Sunday feature nearly 100 individual booths sponsored by restaurants, civic organizations, school groups and churches - all featuring their own interpretation of the best North Carolina has to offer from the bounty of the sea. There are also plenty of raw oysters ready to shuck - a highlight of North Carolina's coastal cuisine.
The last day of the festival features the Blessing of the Fleet at the North Carolina State Port in Morehead City, which is a special celebration and tradition for mariners who call North Carolina home. Without the fleet of commercial fishing vessels that come from Carteret County, the availability of fresh seafood in the state and even the nation would be greatly impacted. The men and women who risk their lives to make a living from the sea are the providers of the bountiful harvest that we currently enjoy in our homes and restaurants. The festival's goal, which is to recognize the many who have given their lives in this occupation and to thank those who are in the business today, is realized with the emotional Blessing of the Fleet on the Morehead City waterfront. Many attendees attest that this simple ceremony is the most memorable experience during a visit to the festival.