The North Carolina Seafood Festival returns this weekend along the Morehead City waterfront with a blend of old favorites and new ways to celebrate.
“It’s going to be a unique year with a lot of new things,” NCSF Executive Director Stephanie McIntyre said.
One of the most notable changes will be a revamped educational area.
The popular Cooking with the Chefs tent will be back and beside it will be the new Local Fare with Coastal Flair tent.
McIntyre said the Local Fare tent expands on the goal of the Cooking with the Chefs event.
Chefs from along the coast cook up a sampling of recipes using wild-caught North Carolina seafood, highlighting the fresh seafood found in area waters and the benefits of buying local. At the Local Fare tent, festival visitors can learn more about where to go to buy local seafood as well as produce.
“The chef’s tent helps educate people about seafood, the availability of it, the sustainability and what they can do to prepare it. With the new area we want to teach them where they can go to get local seafood and produce,” she said.
The festival kicks off Friday at noon with an opening ceremony. Festival vendors and the main stage will be open from noon to 11 p.m., and rides will open at 2 p.m.
The event continues in full-swing on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., with the waterfront streets lined with seafood selections including shrimp, clams, oysters and fish.
For area schools, churches, scout troops and other nonprofit civic organizations, the seafood festival is an annual fundraiser. They serve up favorites like clam chowder and shrimp burgers to raise money for band uniforms, scholarships and community programs.
While enjoying their choice of seafood, those attending the festival can pick from entertainment from four stages, festival rides, stop by the children’s area and browse the arts and crafts vendors.
Miss North Carolina will fling the first flounder at noon. Gloriana will perform their hit single Kissed You Goodnight when they take stage at 6 p.m. Saturday And fireworks will light up the sky at 9 p.m.
Sunday the festival begins at 10 a.m. with the Blessing of the Fleet held at the Morehead City Port to honor commercial fishermen and the seafood industry. Activities continue along the waterfront from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There’s a new free mobile app available on iPhone and Android smartphones that will help users stay connected throughout the festival.
“It’s like a map in your hand but better,” McIntyre said.
The app can show the location of their favorite vendors, provides details on festival activities and allows users to set alerts reminding of the favorite bands or activities.
Free parking is available Saturday and Sunday at the Morehead City port.
For more information on the festival, visit ncseafoodfestival.org.