The 42nd Annual Dare Day festival set for Saturday, June 3, on the Manteo waterfront and along Queen Elizabeth Street — and it’s not to be missed, organizers say.
The event begins at 9 a.m. and features a full day of fun activities — all free — for people of all ages, says Martha Wickre, who serves as maestro of the event for the second year.
The event is rain or shine, and a free shuttle is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for people who want to park at College of the Albemarle on Highway 64 and be transported to the Magnolia Pavilion.
About the festival
The success of the event attracts vendors from three states and from as far afield as Charlestown, West Virginia — a charming little town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, not far from Harpers Ferry — as well as a host of local artists and artisans.
More than 100 vendors will participate and range from tasty treats and artisans to companies, like Yacht Doc, a boat repair specialist and marine supply store.
Wickre says the number of vendors who will attend this year’s festival exceeds those who have taken part in years past.
She attributes the increase to word of mouth and strategically placed billboards on Highway 64 and Highway 158 that promoted the event.
“People thought that Dare Day had ended in 2015, due to the retirement of Melva Garrison, the last Dare Day coordinator,” Wickre says. “People told me last year they thought there was not going to be another Dare Day, and after we had such a great event last year, sponsored by the town of Manteo, vendors are back and ready to be a part of Dare Day again.”
Jewelry designer Judy Kline, owner of Ocean Treasures by Judi, is among the vendors who signed up to participate in Dare Days for the first time. Kline says the event is a great opportunity to showcase her unique handcrafted jewelry, into which she incorporates local sea glass.
“The designs are inspired by the sea, even if the piece is mixed-metal, semi-precious stones or sterling silver,” says Kline, who is a one-person operation: She conceptualizes each design, handcrafts and markets each piece of her collection.
Kline says the outdoor festival is a perfect venue for artisans because visitors have the chance to see a plethora of unique items from a range of artists all in one place, while still enjoying the natural beauty of the Outer Banks.
Her work is sold in Nags Head at seagreen gallery, 2404 S. Virginia Dare Trail, and Yellowhouse Art Gallery, 4711 S. Croatan Highway; and in Duck at All Ducked Out, a specialty boutique at 1187 Duck Road in the Loblolly Pines Shopping Center; and at SeaDragon Gallery, 1240 Duck Road, in The Waterfront Shops.
In addition to vendors, the event features live music, a cornhole tournament, children’s amusement rides and a kids zone.
Following is a roundup of some of the highlights of what’s on tap:
“Our music lineup is exceptional, with both local and out of town bands featuring beach music, steel drums, country, alternative, barber shop quartet, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz,” Martha Wickre says. “This is the second year that we have brought back the evening concert with North Tower Band.”
In addition to the Raleigh-based North Tower, which performs Top 40, performers include Trinidad Ron, Sea Notes, EZ Malone, Echoes of Heritage, John Emil, Jonny Waters, Jeremy Russell, The Ramble, Shallowbag, On Edge and Jesse Stockton and The Dream Machine.
Among the highlights is a performance by the Original Rhondels, which begins at 11 a.m. on the Oasis Suites Hotel Boathouse Stage for the Dare Day Ceremony and stay put for an hour-long set.
Bill Deal & the Rhondels formed in 1959 in Portsmouth, Virginia, and gained popularity in the ‘60s for its mix of soulful beach music mixed with American jazz and rhythm and blues.
The group performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City, as well as venues around the world. It had 3 Top 10 hits — “May I”, “I’ve Been Hurt” and “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am” — and topped the charts in Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Spain.
The band of musical brothers shared the bill with luminaries like The Eagles, Joe Walsh, Chubby Checker, The Beach Boys, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Jimmy Buffett, among others.
Bill Deal died at age 59 in 2003, but the band — which includes Brian Bleakley, Steve Ambrose, Wayne Kessinger, Gary Hardy, Rollie Ligart, Lee Quisenberry, Bruce Harlow and Sonny Morris — continue the legacy.
The band’s repertoire includes Top 40, Motown, disco, jazz, big band swing, beach music and blues.
In 2003, Bill Deal & the Rhondels earned a star on Norfolk’s Legends Walk of Fame.
The Dare Day Ceremony will take place at noon on the Oasis Suites Courthouse Stage honoring the Dare County and Town of Manteo citizen of the year.
People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, grab a cold drink, sit back and enjoy the show.
Rain Gutter Regatta
The Cub Scouts of America-inspired competition — the sailboat equivalent of a pinewood derby — pits participants against each other in a friendly model sailboat race to a finish line using only their breath and a floating toy boat that consists of a trimaran hull with two balsa wood outriggers, sail, mast, screws, sanding stick and instructions.
“It’s about 6-inches long, and really easy to put together. It’s a great parent-child bonding project,” says Barry Wickre, Martha Wickre’s husband, and director of the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum, 104 Fernando Street in downtown Manteo.
Free complete boat kits are available through noon, Friday, June 2, at the museum. Kids are encouraged to decorate and paint their boat — and even name their boat, if they want.
“Last year, 45 kids took part in the regatta, and this year, the Cub Scout Pack in Manteo will participate and also help run the event,” says Wickre, a licensed U.S. Coast Guard Captain and U.S. Sailing Certified Sailing Instructor.
Children ages 4 to 11 are eligible to participate and will be divided in age-specific categories: ages 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 and 10-11.
The race course — one for each age category — is a straight course shaped like a rubber rain gutter, and the pint-sized sailors blow his or her boat down the course to the finish line.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 3, at the boathouse behind the museum. The first race starts at 10:30 a.m., following the Pirate Magic Show.
Awards will be presented to the top three winners in each age group, and an overall winner will receive a separate award.
Contact Barry Wickre at 252-475-1750.
Specially bred and trained pot-bellied pigs line up at a gate and wait for the latch to be released on the gate, so they can circle around a fenced-in track — NASCAR-style — racing against each other to complete the course and get the yummy treat that waits at the finish line.
Why pigs? Research shows that pigs are smart, have long-term memories, are social, affectionate, love to play, respond to praise — and they are able to solve challenging problems and strategize, which makes them the perfect little critters to oink their way to the finish line and into spectators’ hearts.
Blue Ribbon Tent
A feast of home-canned preserves, jams, jellies and pickles, as well as homemade cakes, fruit pies, candy, breads and cookies can be found inside the tent. Participants are invited to register as many entries in each category and as many categories as he or she would like. Blue ribbons will be awarded in each category.
Representatives from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office serve as the panel of judges.
“I have one local judge and the rest are from the region,” Martha Wickre says. “Dee Furlough, who is in the Dare County office, and she is bringing judges who have worked this type of event before.”
Entries will be accepted until noon Saturday, June 3, at the Blue Ribbon Tent next to the Weather Tower on the downtown waterfront. All entries must be homemade and entered in the name of the maker. Judging begins at 12:30 p.m., and winners will be announced and awarded at 1:30 p.m. on the Oasis Suites Boathouse Stage.
It is the commitment from the engines of the community that continues to fuel the success of the annual event, says Wickre, who is originally from Virginia Beach and has lived on Roanoke Island since 1998 and in the town of Manteo since 2009.
“This year, we have two businesses who sponsor two of our events — Saga Construction and Towne Bank — and the Outer Banks Visitor Bureau supports our endeavors to bring out of town guests here to Dare County that weekend,” Wickre says. “Public Works Director James McClease and his staff go beyond expectations to help me make the day a great success, and Chief of Police Vance Haskett and his officers do an outstanding job on the day of Dare Day, with street closures and traffic downtown.”
In addition, Manteo Town Manager Kermit Skinner and the administrative staff lend a hand in organizing the event, and the Dare County Transportation System assists with the free shuttle service that transports people from designated off-site parking to the festival grounds, she says.
“Dare County has continued to support this event and we are happy to have them as partners.”
Wickre says getting all the moving pieces together for such a large-scale festival is challenging, but her dedication to making this year’s event spectacular is rooted in her love for the community: She has served on the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Executive Board and has worked for Dare County Emergency Management and the county’s public relations and social services departments.
“I enjoy doing things for my community,” says Wickre, a commissioner for the town of Manteo. “I strive to enhance the town of Manteo and continue to help make it a friendly and prospering community. My heart is in Manteo, and it comes easy to be a part of such a historical area in Dare County.”