July 10, 2012
Day at the Docks will be a four-day event this year


Day at the Docks, the annual festival held each fall on the working waterfront of Hatteras village, originally began in the wake of Hurricane Isabel recovery efforts as a way to celebrate the spirit of Hatteras village and to honor the enduring strength and heritage of its community—a community anchored by its commercial and charter fishermen.

In the seven years since the first official event, Day at the Docks has grown from a small, community gathering, attended by a couple hundred people -- most of them islanders -- to an authentic and vibrant showcase of the island’s fishing traditions and culture, attracting thousands of visitors from at least 15 different states and generating recognition and appreciation of professional watermen, as well as educating the public about the work they do and the organizations that support them.

As Lynne Foster, the founder and organizer of Day at the Docks, put it, almost everyone that lives on this island has some direct connection to the water and to its fishing heritage.

It was with that knowledge, and very much in the original spirit of Day at the Docks, that Foster decided to expand the celebration this year—from the one-day festival it has traditionally been, to a four-day event, beginning on Thursday evening, Sept. 13, and ending on Sunday afternoon, Sept.16.

Foster said that the idea came about while she was discussing the event with Susan West of Buxton and Niaz Dorry, a resident of Gloucester, Mass., and a coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance—an organization dedicated to restoring and enhancing a marine system capable of supporting healthy, diverse, and abundant marine life and human uses.

According to Foster, Dorry, who has experience planning and orchestrating these kinds of events, encouraged her to, “look beyond how much fun [the event] was going to be and think about what it is that you really want to achieve.”

This new focus led Foster and West to consider how Day at the Docks could become an even more potent tool for highlighting not only the economic importance of the fishing industry, but also its cultural significance.

To achieve this, Foster and the Day at the Docks team are bringing together a diverse array of watermen and women from other small fishing communities throughout the nation, as well as a variety of authors, organizations, and locals to participate in this year’s expanded celebration—one that will include public forums, gallery talks, local seafood cooking demonstrations, and tastings, ticketed dinners, and, of course, all the activities that Day at the Docks attendees have come to know and love—including the parade of boats and the Blessing of the Fleet.

In addition, a peripheral, though no less important goal of expanding the event, is to attract more visitors and keep them here for a longer period of time—to increase immersion in the local culture and provide an off-season boost to local businesses.

“I’m really looking forward to using different venues,” Foster said of this year’s celebration, “to moving more people throughout the village.”

Indeed, on top of all the regular festivities that take place along the village waterfront and at the Hatteras Village Community Building, this year’s schedule will boast events at the historic Seaside Inn, The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, and Lee Robinson General Store.

In the end, Foster hopes that the expanded event will help to uplift the local fishing community, inspire young fishermen to become leaders in the fishing industry, and increase educational opportunities and cultural access for island visitors.

At its heart, Day at the Docks has always been about celebrating the waterman heritage and working to ensure the future of fishing on Hatteras Island.  This year’s expanded event represents a big step forward in that direction.


All the events taking place on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday will be new additions to the Day at the Docks lineup. In addition, there will be a few fresh faces on the schedule for Saturday. Here’s a preview of what attendees can look forward to this year:

Thursday, Sept. 13:

  • “Talk of the Villages: Fishermen, Fish, Food and Livelihood.”
  • This will be a free and open public discussion featuring fishing industry “heroes” from across the nation—individuals who have overcome great odds and obstacles in order to preserve fisheries and continue fishing. The discussion will be moderated by Susan West and Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake, co-authors of “Fish House Opera.” Guest speakers will include:
  • Dave Densmore, a commercial fisherman and accomplished poet from Alaska, who spent four nights adrift on the Bering Sea—in a life-raft, without a survival suit—and who, in the process of recovering from frostbite that left him temporarily unable to use his legs, pioneered the Prince William Sound Herring Roe Dive Fishery.
  • Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimper, mother of five, and author from Seadrift, Texas, who decided to take on a multi-billion dollar corporation responsible for polluting the Gulf Coast bay where she fished—and won.
  • Niaz Dorry, a Gloucester, Mass., resident who is a coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance; a member of the executive committees of the National Family Farm Coalition and Granite State Fish; an advisor to the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, and a noted proponent of small-scale, traditional, and indigenous fishing communities.
  • Robert Fritchey, a Pennsylvania native who traded a career in medical parasitology to become a commercial redfish netter in Louisiana. Fritchey, who was put out of business by Louisiana’s 1995 legislative net-ban, has published two books defending the traditional fishery (“Wetland Riders”) and detailing the history of the net-ban controversies that came as a result of the most expensive and elaborate “environmental education” campaign in the nation’s history (“Gulf Wars: Southern Sportsmen on the March”).

Friday, Sept. 14:

  • “Sons of the Pioneers”
    • This event, free and open to the public, will be a gallery talk that will highlight the charter fishing industry and will feature stories from villagers Spurgeon Stowe, Ernie Foster, Dwight Burrus, Homer Styron, and Edgar Styron—the sons of islanders who pioneered charter fishing on Hatteras.  
    • The talk will be moderated by Danny Couch and is slated to take place in the soon-to-be opening charter fishing exhibit at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.
  • “Celebrating North Carolina”
    • This event will offer guests the opportunity to sample North Carolina beer, wine, and seafood while enjoying music from local musician Wes Lassiter and meeting noted author Kevin Duffus.
    • The event will be held at Lee Robinson General Store and will be open to the public with a requested donation to the Waterman’s Relief Fund, which is administered by Hatteras United Methodist Church.

Saturday, Sept. 15:

In addition to all the usual festivities that take place along the waterfront on Saturday, there will be a few events and guests on the main stage this year.

  • Author Readings and Guest Speakers:
    • Many of the guest speakers from Thursday night’s forum will make an appearance on the main stage on Saturday, including Dave Densmore, who will read some of his poetry; Robert Fritchey and Susan West and Barbara Garrity-Blake, who will read from their book “Fish House Opera,” and Niaz Dorry. In addition, North Carolina author David Cecelski and Smith Island, Maryland, crabber Janice Marshall will be featured.
    • Cecelski will speak about traditional fishing songs in a bit called “Music all over the Ocean,” and Marshall will speak about crab-processing cooperative that she and four other women started after their traditional home-based crab-picking operation on Smith Island was shut down by the Maryland government.   
  • Seafood Throw-down
    • Another major—and exciting—new event this year will be the “Seafood Throw-down.” This will be an Iron Chef”-style cooking competition that will feature two local chefs and a locally sourced, mystery seafood, which won’t be revealed until the competition begins and will be donated by Hatteras commercial fishermen.
    • The chefs may bring with them their favorite sous chef, cooking vessels and utensils, presentation plates, and three ingredients.  Once the mystery ingredient has been announced, chefs will have one hour to select North Carolina produce and herbs from the throw-down pantry (which will be stocked from the Conetoe Family Life Center’s community garden) and prepare their meals for the judges.
  • Fisherman’s Dinner
    • Details will be released closer to the date.

Sunday, Sept. 16:

  • Shrimp and Grits Lunch
    • The culminating event will be a ticketed shrimp and grits lunch on the lawn of the Seaside Inn with guest speaker Elizabeth Wiegand, the author of “The Outer Banks Cookbook.”


The Hatteras village waterfront will be chock-full of traditional Day at the Docks events and activities on Saturday, including the kid’s fishing competition, the crab races, survival suit races, net-hanging and concrete marlin competitions, seafood harvest and cooking demonstrations, fish-print T-shirt-making, the mullet toss, and of course, the ever-popular chowder cook-off.

In addition, the education and merchandise tents will be set up in the parking lot of Willis Landing, and the main stage, which will feature a variety of guests throughout the day, will be set up just across from Foster’s Quay, the home of the Albatross Fleet, which, it should be noted, will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year.

And, of course, no Day at the Docks would be complete without the annual parade of working boats and the Blessing of the Fleet.

After the blessing of the fleet, and in addition to the fishermen’s dinner, there will again be a dance on the lawn of the Hatteras Community Building, featuring musical guest, Premier.


Thursday, Sept. 13

4 p.m. -- “Talk of the Villages: Fishermen, Fish, Food and Livelihood” at the Seaside Inn

Friday, Sept. 14

2 p.m. -- “Sons of the Pioneers” at The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
4 p.m.    -- “Celebrating North Carolina” at Lee Robinson General Store

Saturday, Sept. 15

10 a.m. -- Entertainment and activities along the waterfront (master schedule for performers, speakers, and activities still to be determined)
6 p.m. -- Parade of working boats into the harbor and the Blessing of the Fleet
7:30 p.m. -- Fishermen’s Dinner at Seaside Inn
8 p.m. -- Dance, featuring Premier, at the Hatteras Village Community Building

Sunday, Sept. 16

1 p.m.    Shrimp and Grits Lunch with Elizabeth Wiegand at Seaside Inn


For more information, or to sponsor any of the above events or activities, visit the Day at the Docks website, www.dayatthedocks.org, or contact Lynne Foster at [email protected].

Click here to see slide shows from the 2010 Day the Docks and the Parade of Boats and Blessing of the Fleet.

 Comments are always welcomed!

     Subject :

     Name :  (required)

     Email :  (required, will not be published)

     City :   (required)    State :   (required)

     Your Comments:

May be posted on the Letters to the Editor page at the discretion of the editor.