Our Coast: Fishermen's Festival
By Jordan Tomberlin
Reprinted from the Island Free Press
Last of two parts
HATTERAS-- The Day at the Docks festival next month in Hatteras has been expanded to four days and will feature some fresh faces and events in addition to the usual festivities, such as the Blessing of the Fleet.
All the events taking place on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday will be new. In addition, there will be a few new things on the schedule for Saturday. Here’s a preview of what attendees can look forward to this year:
Talk of the Villages: Fishermen, Fish, Food and Livelihood: This will be a free and open public discussion at the Seaside Inn on Thursday, Sept. 13, starting at 4 p.m. It will feature fishermen from across the nation who have overcome great odds and obstacles in order to preserve fisheries and continue fishing. The discussion will be moderated by Susan West and Barbara Garrity-Blake, co-authors of the book Fish House Opera. Guest speakers will include:
Schedule of Events
Thursday, Sept. 13
4 p.m. -- “Talk of the Villages: Fishermen, Fish, Food and Livelihood” at the Seaside Inn
Friday, Sept. 14
2 p.m. -- “Sons of the Pioneers” at The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
4 p.m. -- “Celebrating North Carolina” at Lee Robinson General Store
Saturday, Sept. 15
10 a.m. -- Entertainment and activities along the waterfront
6 p.m. -- Parade of working boats into the harbor and the Blessing of the Fleet
7:30 p.m. -- Fishermen’s Dinner at Seaside Inn
8 p.m. -- Dance, featuring Premier, at the Hatteras Village Community Building
Sunday, Sept. 16
1 p.m. -- Shrimp and Grits Lunch with Elizabeth Wiegand at Seaside Inn
- Dave Densmore, a commercial fisherman and accomplished poet from Alaska, who spent four nights adrift on the Bering Sea—in a life-raft and without a survival suit—and who, in the process of recovering from frostbite that left him temporarily unable to use his legs, pioneered the Prince William Sound herring roe dive fishery.
- Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimper, mother of five and author from Seadrift, Texas, who decided to take on a multi-billion dollar corporation responsible for polluting the Gulf Coast bay where she fished—and won.
- Niaz Dorry, a Gloucester, Mass., resident who is a coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance; a member of the executive committees of the National Family Farm Coalition and Granite State Fish; an advisor to the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment; and a noted proponent of small-scale, traditional and indigenous fishing communities.
- Robert Fritchey, a Pennsylvania native who traded a career in medical parasitology to become a commercial redfish netter in Louisiana. Fritchey, who was put out of business by Louisiana’s 1995 legislative net-ban, has published two books defending the traditional fishery.
Sons of the Pioneers: This event, which is free and open to the public, will be a talk at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum on Friday, Sept. 14, starting at 2 p.m. It will highlight the charter fishing industry and will feature stories from villagers Spurgeon Stowe, Ernie Foster, Dwight Burrus, Homer Styron and Edgar Styron—the sons of islanders who pioneered charter fishing on Hatteras.
The talk will be moderated by Danny Couch and is slated to take place in the soon-to-be opening charter fishing exhibit at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.
Celebrating North Carolina: The event will be held at Lee Robinson Store on Friday, Sept. 14, starting at 4 p.m. It will be open to the public with a requested donation to the Waterman’s Relief Fund, which is administered by Hatteras United Methodist Church. Guests will have the opportunity to sample North Carolina beer, wine and seafood while enjoying music from local musician Wes Lassiter and meeting noted author Kevin Duffus.
In addition to all the usual festivities that take place along the waterfront on Saturday, Sept. 15, there will be a few events and guests on the main stage this year.
Author readings and guest speakers: Many of the guest speakers from Thursday night’s forum will make an appearance on the main stage, including Densmore, who will read some of his poetry; West and Garrity-Blake, who will read from Fish House Opera.
N.C. author David Cecelski and Janice Marshall, a Smith Island, Md., crabber will also be featured. Cecelski will speak about traditional fishing songs and Marshall will talk about a crab-processing cooperative that she and four other women started.
Seafood Throw-Down: This is another major, new event this year. This will be an Iron Chef-style cooking competition that will feature two local chefs and a locally sourced, mystery seafood, which won’t be revealed until the competition begins and will be donated by Hatteras commercial fishermen. Once the mystery ingredient has been revealed, the chefs will have one hour to select N.C. produce and herbs from a pantry that will be stocked from the Conetoe Family Life Center’s community garden and prepare their meals for the judges.
Old Favorites Returning
Crab races are a favorite at the Day at the Docks festival. Photo: Dan Bowers, Island Free Press.
The Hatteras village waterfront will be chock-full of traditional Day at the Docks events and activities on Saturday, including the kid’s fishing competition, the crab races, survival suit races, net-hanging and concrete marlin competitions, seafood harvest and cooking demonstrations, fish-print T-shirt-making, the mullet toss, and of course, the ever-popular chowder cook-off.
In addition, the education and merchandise tents will be set up in the parking lot of Willis Landing, and the main stage, which will feature a variety of guests throughout the day, will be set up just across from Foster’s Quay, the home of the Albatross Fleet, which, it should be noted, will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year.
And, of course, no Day at the Docks would be complete without the annual parade of working boats and the Blessing of the Fleet.
After the blessing of the fleet and a fishermen’s dinner, there will again be a dance on the lawn of the Hatteras Community Building, featuring musical guest, Premier.
The culminating event will be a ticketed shrimp and grits lunch on Sunday, Sept. 16, on the lawn of the Seaside Inn with guest speaker Elizabeth Wiegand, the author of The Outer Banks Cookbook.
For more information, or to sponsor any of the above events or activities, visit the Day at the Docks web site, or contact Lynne Foster,
To see slide shows from the 2010 Day at the Docks and Parade of Boats and Blessing of the Fleet, go to Island Free Press web site.