There is a hustle and bustle in the air. As you wait in line, the excitement builds.

A cool, gentle breeze drifts along, carrying with it the sounds and smells of a way of life, a coastal heritage like no other. Dancing from one foot to the other, you happily drink it all in because it’s fall — and that means it’s time for the Outer Banks Seafood Festival.

“It really is a unique experience,” says Mike Pringle, festival chairman. “I started as a volunteer on the chamber board serving beer at the event. The first year was special, but after six years in the making, we expect this year to really be the best.”

Nearly 10,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festivals, which is Saturday, Oct 21, at the Soundside Event Site in Nags Head.

The event is one of several that celebrate the link between the people of the Outer Banks and the sea. The community has long celebrated its fishing heritage with festivals, Day at the Docks, which is held in September on Hatteras Island.

“We are proud to showcase all the Outer Banks has to offer,” Pringle says. “Our local restaurants strive to feature their very best seafood dishes; one specialty and one unique.”

But that’s not all.

“The festival has an array of educational tools on-site that are family friendly and fun.”

By fun, he means a mullet toss.

“We actually had to lengthen the field this year,” Pringle says with a laugh. “Folks were literally throwing the fish the distance of the area we marked off; kids and adults alike.”

What makes this slimy toss even better is the fact that for every fish that gets chucked, a donation is made to a local charity, he says.

“We started this event as a way to boost the local economy during the shoulder-season and also as a means to donate, provide grants and scholarships. We work with organizations whose mission aligns with that of the festival,” he says. “It is a labor of love.”

The event also includes cooking demonstrations, live music, artisans, boats, history and more.

There’s color, flavor, sight and sounds — a true sensory experience, Pringle says.

“This year, we have a new addition: We have added a boat and tackle show, courtesy of Manteo Marine, so that guests may have a better understanding of the tools that are being used in this trade.”

Nonprofit vendors — including the Sierra club, Beach Food Pantry and the Blue Star Mother of America — will be on-site, along with the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, Jennette’s Pier, Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station and N.E.S.T.

“Being a part of this event truly is a privilege,” Pringle says.

“We are proud to share what the Outer Banks is all about.”

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