One of the most anticipated weekends of the
summer is just around the corner for music fans on Ocracoke Island, as
the Ocrafolk Music and Storytelling Festival kicks off on Friday, June
3, with three days of music, storytelling, and arts to discover.
The annual festival, which is celebrating its
19th year in 2018, is a vivid collection of more than 50 arts and craft
vendors, multiple music performances with 4-5 stages set up around the
village, and tons of corresponding entertainment courtesy of
storytellers, historians, and local businesses from around the island
The ensuing artistic and musical scene
infiltrates almost every corner of the village, with multiple
activities to entice visitors to stop by and check out the sights and
“It will be hard to miss,” says David Tweedie,
Executive Director for Ocracoke Alive, Inc., which orchestrates the
event. “I wouldn’t say it takes over the village, but it attracts a lot
of people year after year, and is a great way to raise money for the
The proceeds from the annual Ocrafolk Festival
goes to Ocracoke Alive, Inc., which is a 501(c) 3 non-profit
organization with a mission to enrich the Ocracoke Island community by
encouraging and sponsoring cultural, artistic, educational, and
environmental activities. The organization partners with the school and
the community to create special events, exhibits, workshops and
festivals, which shine a light on the unique culture of Ocracoke, and
which brings this culture to locals and visitors alike in some fairly
creative ways. Examples of their initiatives include the launch of the
Skipjack Wilma Lee as a venue for performances, talks, and classes, as
well as the continuing support of Ocracoke’s own Deepwater Theater.
And the Ocrafolk festival is easily one of Ocracoke Alive’s biggest undertakings of the year.
“The first year we did it, the festival was held
on a single day, and it grew and grew from there,” says David. “We then
had it for two days over the weekend for first 14 or 15 years, and then
we expanded it to a half day on Friday as well.”
This year, for the first time, the Ocrafolk
Festival will have ticketed areas with live music and performances, as
an effort to raise additional funds for the organization.
“This event has been near and dear to our hearts
for a number of years, but it’s also expensive,” says David. “In the
past couple of years, we’ve cleared $1,000 off a $65,000 event, so we
knew we had to change the formula and make people aware that the
purpose of the event is to enable us to create programming that is not
created in any other way on the island.”
“It’s a critical arts program in our eyes, and we partner with the school and other organizations to bring it to the community.”
Tickets are available for a single day or for the
full weekend, and can be purchased on-site at the Box Office tent on
School Road for impromptu trips to check out the action. Tickets are
$15 for Friday and Sunday, $25 for Saturday, and $50 for a full weekend
“People can still wander the grounds and visit
the artisans, but if they want to be in the audience areas [for shows],
they do need a ticket this year,” says David.
And rest assured, you’ll get a lot of entertainment bang for your buck.
Roughly 18 bands and musicians are slated to
perform over the course of the weekend, and the festival will also
feature six storytellers and characters, dozens of art and food
vendors, kids’ activities, and so much more at various locales
throughout the village. (It really is a lot to keep track of, so
interested attendees will want to peruse the schedule at https://www.ocracokealive.org/schedule.html.)
“It’s not a huge festival like you’d find in a
big city, but for us it’s pretty big,” says David. “We usually expect
about 3,000 - 4,000 people for the event every year.”
And this influx in the local population – as well
as the multiple and corresponding activities – certainly requires a lot
of behind-the-scenes work.
Ocrafolk Festival has more than 200 volunteers
who assist with various portions of the event, and who are the backbone
of the festival. “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers. They make
it happen,” says David.
The volunteers include locals as well as longtime
Ocracoke fans who have attended the festival for years, and who want to
lend a hand.
“We have quite a few volunteers who have been
coming for a long time, and we consider them our extended family,” says
David. “It’s a vacation for them, and it’s fun, but it gives you a
different sense of meaning and a different sense of Ocracoke Island.
You get to feel like you’re a part of the community.”
David also credits the sponsors for the success
of the event, which provide a substantial amount of funds to keep the
shows going. “Almost half the money needed to run the festival come
from folks who sponsor the event,” says David. “We could not have the
festival without their help.”
And for newcomers who may drift over the festival
for the first time this year, expect a unique atmosphere that’s
rippling with activity, and which can be enjoyed by all ages.
“It’s a very family friendly environment. The
style of music is folk, blues, and Americana for most of the performers
that we have, in addition to the storytellers, artisans and other
activities through the weekend,” he says. “It’s one of the most popular
weekends on the island, and for [folks] coming to Ocracoke, it will be
easy to find.”
To find out more about the Ocrafolk Festival on June 1-3, visit https://www.ocracokealive.org/general-info-and-tickets.html.