September 2, 2016
Day at the Docks will feature celebrity chefs,
big celebrations, and plenty of fun


The 12th annual Day at the Docks, a celebration of Hatteras Island watermen, is planned for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 and 17 in Hatteras village. The two-day event has quickly become one of the most beloved festivals of the southern Outer Banks, and this year’s schedule presents a multitude of opportunities to watch live demos, participate in kid-friendly activities, and enjoy the wealth of seafood-based coastal cuisine that’s abundant on Hatteras.

Day at the Docks was started to celebrate the "Spirit of Hatteras" when the village recovered from Hurricane Isabel in 2003 as an intact community, anchored by the commercial and charter fishermen. The celebration, which now features a wide array of events over the course of two days, is a confirmation of the strength of community, heritage, and the living traditions of the island's watermen.

In its 12-year tenure, Day at the Docks has become a true celebration of the Hatteras Island way of life. And this year’s festival promises a variety of now traditional and annual events, as well as a few unique elements that will charm visitors of all tastes.

The event is supported by a grant from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, and is sponsored by dozens of local businesses and organizations that have a stake in spreading the word of the remarkable and generations-old fishing backbone of the island.

Want to join in the fun? Here's an overview of the upcoming events.


The kick-off day of the Day at the Docks will be a true treat for seafood lovers and anyone with exceptional taste, thanks to a duo of events that are designed to highlight local coastal cuisine.

Taste of North Carolina

Start the celebration by heading to the Lee Robinson General Store and Sticky Bottom Produce for the sixth annual Taste of North Carolina, Hatteras Style. Live music will be provided by Blurkey’s Quirky Friends, and the food, beer, wine, and music of the Old North State will be readily on hand. The event kicks off at 4 p.m., and continues until sunset. The venue is easy to find and is located directly on Highway 12 toward the ferry docks.

Talk of the Villages

The fourth annual “Talk of the Villages” is planned for 7 p.m. at the Hatteras Civic Center. This year’s theme is “The Fish on your Dish,” and a trio of acclaimed and groundbreaking chefs will be on hand to share their secrets, stories, and anecdotes from a career of being at the forefront of modern coastal cuisine.

Tom Armstrong is chef and general manager at Vinnie’s Steak House in Raleigh. He spent his childhood in New Orleans, and later developed a passion and talent that led him into several professional kitchens. He gained an apprenticeship at Raleigh’s Second Empire where he trained for two years, while earning a degree in writing, rhetoric and language from North Carolina State University. Before coming to Vinnie’s, he cooked for the Nobles Group of the Triad, as well as in Yellowstone National Park and Sedona, Ariz. When he’s not in the kitchen, you might find him exploring local farmers’ markets, biking and foraging along the greenway or hiking one of his favorite mountain trails.

Keith Rhodes is chef and owner of Catch Modern Seafood Restaurant, and Catch The Food Truck in Wilmington. With strong family roots in the Cape Fear region, Keith credits his grandfather for his farm-to-table approach that supports local purveyors, fishermen and farmers. Voted Wilmington’s Best Chef four years in a row, Keith also captured the Goodness Grows in N.C. best dish for fine dining and for casual dining. He was a 2011 James Beard finalist for “Best Chef of the Southeast” and also competed on Bravos’ “Top Chef, Season 9.”

Wes Stepp is the owner of the popular Red Sky Cafe restaurant in Duck. He’s been a chef in the Outer Banks for over 25 years, and his cuisine reflects the best of what the beach offers. Originally from West Virginia, Wes came to the Outer Banks after graduating college with a degree in psychology. He worked at Kelly’s Restaurant in Nags Head before purchasing Red Sky Café. He also leads Tastefully Fit, a lifestyle program focused on simple but delicious menu choices.

Armstrong, Rhodes and Stepp will all share stories and personal experiences about working with N.C. seafood to create positive change and to build strong businesses. They will also talk about their favorite seafood flavor combinations and preparation tips, which will be an enticing subject for any local and visiting seafood fan.

The Talk of the Villages is a free event and is open to the public, and is sure to be an unforgettable event of the Day at the Docks Festival.

Hurricane Awareness Town Hall

In addition to the food-centric events, a Hurricane Awareness Town Hall is also slated for Friday at 1 p.m. at the Hatteras Village Civic Center. The time will be announced soon. The program is presented by meteorologists from the local National Weather Service Office in Newport/Morehead City, N.C. They will talk about the new storm surge maps and other new products for hurricane forecasting, and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers.


Fishy 5K and Dock Dash Fun Run. 

Active locals and visitors can start off Saturday’s series of events by participating in the annual Fishy 5k, which begins and ends at the Hatteras United Methodist Church. The ensuing 5K route is a charming trek through the heart of historic Hatteras Village, and the coinciding Dock Dash fun run will start and end at Hatteras United Methodist Church and will cover 1 mile with a turnaround just past Hatteras Harbor Marina.

Runners and walkers of all skill levels are welcome, and the Fishy 5k will begin at 8 a.m., with the Dock Dash fun run following at 9 a.m.

Proceeds from the event support the missions of the Hatteras United Methodist Church, which includes worthy local causes such as the Hatteras Methodist Church Community Preschool, the Hatteras Island Angel Gift program, Young Life Ministry, and even the annual Day the Docks celebration itself.

The entry fee includes a t-shirt and goody bag, and all finishers of the Fishy 5k will receive a unique finisher medal. For more information on the event, including online registration, visitors can peruse .

On the Working Waterfront

After the race and fun run, the celebration moves to the village's working waterfront, where there will be non-stop activities throughout the day 

Here are some of the highlights of the annual Day at the Docks Festival.

  • Education Tent. Open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. An educational tent will be open all day for information on everything from weather forecasts to marine fisheries from a dozen regional, state-wide and national organizations such as branches of NOAA, the National Park Service, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, and more.

  • Community Tent. Open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The community tent was introduced in 2014, and features representatives from local non-profits and organizations who share information and give visitors an even broader understanding of the communities of Hatteras Island.

  • Entertainment Tent. Open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. A collection of storytellers, musicians, and singers will take to the stage to provide on-going entertainment throughout the afternoon.

  • Seafood / Food Demonstration Tent. Outer Banks Catch and a collection of other catch-related groups will have a food demonstration tent with live food demos. Several small group cooking demonstrations will be held throughout the day, and the Seafood Tent is also the venue for the annual Seafood Throwdown.

  • Marsh Tours. The N.C. Coastal Federation will host Marsh Tours at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. which will depart from Willis Boat Landing.

  • Harbor Tours. Tour the Hatteras village waterfront with Capt. Mike Scott on the Albatross, the oldest boat in the historic Albatross Fleet. Times and any associated fees will be announced closer to the date.

  • Seafood Throwdown. This popular event features accomplished local and / or regional chefs who provide live cooking demos in the Food Demonstration Tent, as well as go head-to-head in the ultimate island cooking competition. This year’s participants are Scott Surratt, the executive chef at Café Pamlico, and Ross Tolson, an Outer Banks native and an accomplished chef at Owens Restaurant. The throwdown will take place at 2 p.m.

  • Kids Fishing Tournament. A special kids fishing tournament will be held at Jeffrey's Seafood at 2 p.m. with registration beginning at 1 p.m. There is no entry fee to join, no experience required, and a simple pole is provided for those who do not bring their own gear. Easily one of the most popular Day at the Docks events for kids, as many as 108 children have previously participated in this annual fishing contest.

  • The Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation annual Chowder Cook-off.  Held from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Everyday cooks and restaurant chefs compete for the title of the island's best chowder, with the public serving as the judge! For a donation, you can sample the entries – which is a favorite activity for many visitors with great taste.

  • U.S. Coast Guard 47-foot Motor Lifeboat. All day near Oden's Dock. Children really enjoy sitting in the captain's chair and "steering" the boat.  The "Coasties" also bring along their wet trainer, a device the children can climb into and learn how to repair a ship at sea.  With mallets and wedges, they react to sudden leaks while getting thoroughly soaked.

  • Crab races and Fish Print T-shirt Creations for kids. Look for times on schedule and map.

  • Competitions and Demos. A concrete marlin contest will be held where professional captains vie against each other to “hook” and “gaff” a concrete “marlin” or cylinder. (Time will be announced.) There will also be additional demos on such procedures as net picking and fish cleaning throughout the day. Commercial fishermen and their boats will also be around to answer questions and explain their work.

  • Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet. The day will end with a parade of workboats into the harbor and the blessing of the fleet in the harbor at Village Marina. Exact time will be announced, but this closing event is traditionally held around 5:30 or 6 p.m.

    For more information, go to A map and schedule for Saturday will be available closer to the event.

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