I’ve always had a hard time figuring out how I should celebrate Columbus Day. I always come up short and end up buying a pizza and raising my slice to Christopher. But since I’ve moved to the Outer Banks, I’ve discovered the town of Duck has it all figured out for me. Better yet, they’ve made sure that I can fill those empty shoulder-season hours all weekend long with great music by providing me with The Duck Jazz Festival. Well…not just for me, but everybody.

Although the publicity posters show it’s held Oct. 6-7, there are related events on Friday and Monday, as well.

It’s admirable that Duck, the sponsors and the OBX community, at large, have supported the Jazz Festival and kept it going all these years.

I reached out to Christian Legner, the public information, marketing and special events officer for the town of Duck to get the lowdown — and here it is:

Q: How many years has the Duck Jazz Fest been in existence?

A: The first Duck Jazz Festival was in October 2007. It’s been held annually except for 2016, when Hurricane Matthew forced us to cancel the event.

Q: How did it start?

A: The Duck Jazz Festival began as an event to draw visitors to the Outer Banks during the shoulder season and to provide locals with a free, family-friendly event.

Q: How do you decide on which performers will be entertaining?

A: Beginning just after the previous year’s festival, staff begins reviewing artist submissions that have been collected throughout the year.

Q: How many attendees are expected this year?

A: Approximately 6,000 attendees are expected throughout the weekend.

Q: What, besides the performers, is new this year?

A: We have two new events on Friday, Oct. 5. Friday morning at 10 a.m. we have a Jazz Story Time geared towards pre-school age children. Jazz-themed books, music, and crafts are part of this free program Friday evening at 6 p.m. we present “The ABCs of Scatting,” an interactive program with jazz vocalist Yolanda Rabun, which is perfect for ages 6- to 106, this event is also free and open to the public.

Q: This is a “rain or shine” event. What happens when it rains and you’re in the audience?

A: Well, we’re keeping our fingers crossed — but should it rain, we do work with the performers and the schedule to delay start times, if it looks like things will clear. If the rain continues, there are areas for shelter on our town hall porches. The music can be heard throughout the park, so there are various places attendees can ride out the rain.

Q: Can you give me a rundown of the types of vendors and which local eateries will be providing food to purchase?

A: The Town will be selling concessions such as bottled water and soda. We’re happy to announce that our food vendors this year will be Aqua Restaurant; Sooey’s BBQ; and Duck Pizza.

Q: The First Flight High School Jazz Band performs. It must be a thrill for them and their families. How many years have they been invited?

A: We are honored to have these talented students join us. First Flight has been involved with the Duck Jazz Festival in some capacity nearly every year. In addition to performing, the students participate in a workshop for Dare County music students the Monday after the festival. These workshops are led by festival performers.

Q: Does the size of the crowd grow annually?

A: The size of the crowd has continued to slowly grow as we add new events throughout the weekend, providing more opportunities for live music and interactive events.

Q: Has it always been held in the park? Is there a possibility of the event outgrowing the space?

A: The festival has always been held in Duck Town Park. We plan to keep it in the Park and to continue offering it as a free, non-ticketed festival. The venue provided an intimate experience that we value. There is always the possibility of expanding event offerings on the Friday and Saturday of the Duck Jazz weekend to accommodate more attendees.

Q: Since the festival is a free event, how is it funded?

A: In addition to Town of Duck investment, we receive generous support from grant-makers and business sponsors. In 2018, the Duck Jazz Festival is proud to be presented by PNC with grant funding from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau in addition to our many sponsors. All our sponsors can be found on our website at duckjazz.com.

Q: I’ve been told you’ve engaged 7 very different ways to listen to Jazz this year. Can you give us the rundown on those?

A: We have a great line-up of performers this year on top of our interactive events and student workshop. Pre-festival fun begins on Friday, Oct. 5, with two interactive events. On Saturday afternoon, our Concert on the Green welcomes Sidecar Social Club from 4 to 6 p.m. After the show, festival musicians can be found at The Blue Point with an informal jam session. On Sunday, gates open at 10 a.m., with music starting at 11 a.m. On our main stage, don’t miss Bryan Carter & The Young Swangers; Huntertones; Yolanda Rabun; and The Russell Malone Quartet. On our amphitheater stage, check out the U.S. Air Force Rhythm in Blue jazz ensemble perform “It Don’t Mean A Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swang”; an interactive performance by Bryan Carter; and the First Flight High School Jazz Band. Attendees can chat with performers after their sets, get autographs, and purchase band merchandise.

Q: Is there any question you can think of that I should be asking or anything special that our readers should know?

A: Attendees are welcome to bring coolers, chairs, blankets, picnics, and well-behaved pets. Please no tents or umbrellas. The Duck Town Park is smoke-free. We encourage attendees to take glass bottles home for recycling.

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