FALL IS ONE of our favorites time along the Crystal Coast. Cooler weather, smaller crowds and great fishing are the hallmarks of autumn in Eastern Carolina. But smaller crowds doesn't mean that there isn't plenty to do. Fall is festival time – a time for celebration, a time for fellowship and a time for fun.
First on the agenda brings the smell of seafood to the salty air in downtown Morehead City. The annual NC Seafood Festival takes place on the streets of downtown Morehead City Oct. 6-8 and celebrates our abundant catch. The streets come alive with vendors, exhibits, live entertainment, games, rides and plenty more. The Cooking with the Chefs tent is a great option for learning new recipes. On Saturday, area chefs will offer cooking demonstrations and sampling – everyone's favorite. Be on the lookout for chefs from Clawson's, The Boathouse, Dank Burrito & Circa 81 and Island Grill. On Sunday, a Cooking Challenge takes center stage, with eight chefs from around the state battling it out for the coveted Chef's Hat award.
While a paid concert has anchored Saturday night festivities for the last several years, however, organizers are once again turning toward free music options all weekend long on the festival's three stages. Performers include 3-Day Weekend, Six Pack of Gentlemen, Strung Together, Kids in America, Adair's Run and more. Check ncseafoodfestival.org for the complete line up.
Associated with the festival are the Twin Bridges 8K Road Race, the annual Outer Banks Boat Show and the moving Blessing of the Fleet, where those who sacrifice their lives to provide seafood for our community are recognized by other commercial fisherman with a parade of vessels at the NC State Port.
The historic streets of downtown Swansboro host the Mullet Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14-15, as it pays homage to the bait fish that has become a seasonal favorite for diners as well. The festival began as a small community cookout and has blossomed into an event that is part of the small town’s heritage and culture. An estimated 20,000 visitors invade for two days of festivities, which is quite a draw considering the coastal village is home to less than 2,000 residents.
Over 100 craft vendors along with food vendors will line to streets of downtown Swansboro, and of course the famous Jacksonville Rotary Fish Fry – there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. Live entertainment includes Liquid Pleasure, Holiday Band and The Swinging Medallions on Saturday and Blackwater Rhythm and Blues and the Fantastic Shakers on Sunday.
Admission to the festival is free. Downtown streets will be closed to vehicular traffic both days. Visitors are asked to leave their pets at home.
Things begin with a parade on Saturday morning while an array of arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment and inflatable rides for the youngsters take over the downtown waterfront area.
Scheduled the same weekend, Oct. 14-15, is one of New Bern’s largest annual events, MumFest, featuring more than 300 commercial and nonprofit exhibitors, including pottery, crafts and art. Some might say the temptation is too much when they discover dozens of booths filled with a wide variety of savory foods guaranteed to tempt anyone’s appetite.
MumFest brings a variety of free entertainment including live bands, dance troupes, magicians, roving street performers, face painters and mermen and mermaids. In addition, there’s a riverfront amusement park with carnival rides and games.
On Oct. 28-29, the Carolina Kite Fest takes flight over the beach at Sands Villa, Atlantic Beach, thanks to its longtime organizer, Kites Unlimited. This free event brings kite enthusiasts from around the country to enjoy our uplifting fall breeze and mild temperatures.
The festival runs from 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday, with a night fly slated for Saturday. Spectators can see kites of all shapes and sizes soar through the salty air. As long as the wind cooperates, everything from team flying, extreme ascensions and drops, dragons, facets/boxes, sky skimmers and more are demonstrated. Youngsters will even have a chance to make a kite of their own – and if they’re lucky, catch a few tips from the pros.
Be sure to take a camera, kite or both and watch these kites speckle the sky with color, size and creativity. For more information, call Kites Unlimited at 252-247-7011 or visit www.kitesandbirds.com.