Ocean Isle Beach, NC – The 29th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival will be held on October 17th & 18th at Ocean Isle Beach in front of the Museum of Coastal Carolina. Saturday 9:00am until 6:00pm and Sunday 9:00am until 5:00pm. With around 30,000 festival attendees each year from all over the country, this event is packed with fun & entertainment!
The NC Oyster Festival is a fundraiser for the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce. Profits from this festival go back to creating more events and making Brunswick County a premier place to live, work and play. Admission is only $5.00 per person and children 8 and under are free (please note that some activities are at an additional cost). This is a great time of year to bring the entire community together to enjoy the festival. The festival is for the entire family, from shagging, to kids rides, to shucking oysters, to shopping in the vendor section. There is something for everyone!
The NC Oyster Festival began in 1980 with a small Oyster Roast in Brunswick County and has now grown to become an award-winning 2-day festival with over 45,000 attendees in 2007. The event is kicked off by a competitive road race of over 300 runners and walkers at 7:30am. The road race consists of a 5K run, 10K run, and a 1 mile fun run. After the road race, the festival gates are opened by a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:00am which includes the singing of the national anthem, and attendance of several dignitaries, including the area mayors, councils and County Commissioners. Festival goers can now enjoy arts and crafts vendors, back-to-back entertainment, delicious food vendors, kid’s activities, oyster shucking, oyster stew, nonprofit booths and sponsor booths.
2009 Artwork was done by artist Keith White, a local of Brunswick County. Keith White studied commercial art at the Art Institute of Atlanta and the American College for the Applied Arts. After living and working in Atlanta for 11 years, he moved back home to Shallotte and began working at The Brunswick Beacon as a graphic artist. When Keith is not working, he focuses on art in various forms including scratchboards, pen and ink and painting. His artwork focuses on local scenery, surfing and coastal settings. Throughout the year, you can find his art at various community festivals and in several art galleries in Shallotte and Calabash. Before finalizing this year’s Oyster Festival artwork, White sketched several scenes depicting people, places and events associated with the annual event. He eventually decided to submit an image that depicts oysters in the roles of humans at the festival. “For this year’s Oyster Festival art I took a more humorous approach,” White said. “It depicts a fun-filled day at the festival with a slight role reversal with the oysters and people.”
Keith White’s artwork is where our newest member of the NC Oyster Festival originated – Ozzy the Oyster! Ozzy the Oyster is a fun, new character that attendees will see at the upcoming event.
The environment is very important to the NC Oyster Festival and the event is currently working towards becoming more eco-friendly. By working with the local Oyster Shell Recycling Program the NC Oyster Festival is able to replenish the coastal oyster beds with hundreds of bushels of oyster shells every year. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture will also be in attendance at the festival to encourage people to purchase food from local farms. Festival attendees are encouraged to recycle and be conscious of the surrounding environment while at the event.
Oysters are abundant on the North Carolina coast and imperative to the festival. The North Carolina Oyster Festival is proud to host the North Carolina Shucking Championship every year on the Saturday of the festival. There are two divisions, professional and amateur. In order to be a professional, one must work in the oyster house industry. Cheering crowds of a few hundred circle around the tent to watch the exciting seconds of oyster shucking! Judges critique the oysters to see who gets to travel to Maryland for the National Shucking Championships. Attendees can enjoy tasting some of the best oyster stews in the county. The NC Oyster Festival has an oyster stew cook-off on Sunday at noon with area restaurants competing for the title of the BEST Oyster Stew! Only 350 tickets are sold at 10:00am and go very quickly.
Of course oysters are available to eat at the NC Oyster Festival, but that is not all that is on the menu. At the 29th Annual NC Oyster Festival food items include: crab cakes, cream of crab soup, funnel cakes, shrimp and grits, oyster and sausage gumbo, hot dogs, Greek gyros, smoked sausage, hamburgers, fried corn, fries, barbeque ribs, hot apple dumplings, shrimp burgers, and Italian ice – just to name a few! It is impossible to walk away from this festival without having a satisfied appetite after visiting the food vendors.
With over 120 arts and crafts vendors, there is something for everyone at this event. From pottery, to jewelry, to furniture, to pet’s attire, at least 80% of the items at the North Carolina Oyster Festival are handmade. At the 28th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival, arts and crafts vendors traveled from all over North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Florida and four other states.
The 29th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival has a great entertainment lineup with bands like Key West Band, Band of Oz, Cousin Homer, New Beginnings, Embers, and Imitations. On Sunday the first annual shag contest will be held at 3pm. Contestants must register at 1pm on a first come, first serve basis – space is limited!
The Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce is proud that over the past 29 years a small oyster roast was able to evolve into an award winning festival. The NC Oyster Festival won Event of the Year for North Carolina in 2007 and Best Event of Brunswick County in 2008. At the Chamber of Commerce, we value our members and community that make this event possible each and every year. We welcome you to be a part of our community at this exciting third weekend in October!