On Sept.13-14, Hatteras Island will celebrate in true Outer Banks-style with food, music, and community at the annual Day at the Docks event. It kicks off in the heart of Hatteras Village with activities for all ages at Willis Boat Landing, Oden’s Dock, and Hatteras Harbor Marina.

The first Day at the Docks came together in September 2004, one year after Hurricane Isabel devastated Hatteras Village, when many people lost their homes and businesses and were isolated on the island without power and water. Proving that times of loss and struggle can bring people together and make us all stronger, Ernie and Lynne Foster from the Albatross Fleet gathered a group of locals in front of the Hatteras fire department.

While a local band played in the background, folks danced in the street, sharing food and goodwill in honor of the strength and spirit of the village and the hard-working men and women of the waterfront. This was the start of what would become the annual Day at the Docks celebration. Each year, the tradition carries on, organized by the community, put on by the Hatteras Village Civic Association and Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and it continues to grow as an opportunity to learn and share, eat and drink, and dance and party in recognition of Hatteras’s resilience and the working waterfront.

Day at the Docks is free and open to the public; folks can join in on informational activities focused on local fisheries and conservation, enjoy food from local churches and restaurants, and watch seafood demonstrations. Boat captains will teach us about net fishing by bringing their boats into the harbor with nets full of fish and show how they’re gathered to be processed. In order to enjoy a fresh catch, you’ll also want to know how to clean and filet it — you can learn how from a skilled fish cleaner here on the waterfront.

Attendees can also watch a cooking demo and sample food prepared by the culinary class from Cape Hatteras Secondary School. Co-chair of Day at the Docks, Christinia Hicks, said they’re looking forward to this year’s Seafood Throwdown where a member of the Hatteras Village Volunteer Fire Department will be facing off against a member of the Frisco Volunteer Fire Department to see who can most deliciously prepare the main mystery ingredient donated by local fish house, Jeffrey’s Seafood. Local restaurants will also compete for Best Recipe in a Chowder Cook-Off benefitting the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation.

Kids can get in on the competition as well in blue crab races or have fun getting crafty with fish print T-shirts. One of the highlights for kids each year is the fishing contest — no experience needed, just come ready to reel in your best catch. The Coast Guard will have two boats on site for kids to tour in addition to a sinking ship simulator which encourages the kids to fill holes in the boat and stop intruding water before it sinks.

Guests from NOAH will be sharing information on hurricane preparedness in the educational tent which will also offer presentations from NC Sea Grant, NC Watermen United, NC Coastal Federation, and the National Park Service. They’ll describe how they help protect our coastline and local fisheries. Strolling around, you’ll find lots of local North Carolina vendors set up with handmade goods for sale and, later in the afternoon, a folk music concert by Bob Zentz.

Day at the Docks concludes with the Blessing of the Fleet — a tradition of prayer for the safety and success of the commercial and charter fishing fleet based in Hatteras Village. The ceremony is a moving close to a fun-filled, spirited event honoring this enduring community.

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