Where can you take a tour of in-the-water duck blinds, paint a feathered masterpiece, have a riveting close call with an airborne falcon, and get acquainted with a particularly friendly barn owl? Apparently, you can do it all on Hatteras Island.
Hatteras village was a surprisingly busy spot for a late February weekend, thanks to the inaugural launch of the Annual Hatteras Village Waterfowl Festival, which took flight on February 22-24.
Starting with an appropriately themed Fin, Feather and Bourbon dinner on Friday evening, the event got off to an enticing start from the get go, with attendees from both the Outer Banks and miles beyond joining in the festivities.
An estimated 90 “gold” tickets were sold prior to the event, and many more folks dropped by on Saturday to check out the brand new festival, and to see the suite of live demos, tours, classes, vendors, and other activities that were sprinkled throughout the day’s schedule.
Arguably, the highlight of the event for many attendees were the feathered participants, who made a big impression in live demos, and through in-person visits at the Hatteras Village Civic Center.
The impressive birds of the Hawk Manor Falconry out of Lillington, N.C., made waves with visitors throughout the day, thanks to sweeping shows that starred the namesake falcons, and a more casual meet and greet with Annabelle, an exceptionally friendly barn owl who could be held and petted with ease.
Though the appearance of the live birds ruled the roost at the festival, the event featured a myriad of activities to make attendees smile throughout the weekend. Sumptuous food was provided by talented local chef and caterer Dee Callahan, while a host of local and visiting vendors attracted shoppers with a variety of inspired and waterfowl-themed fare at the Hatteras Village Civic Center.
The Civic Center also showcased the works of talented Cape Hatteras Secondary School students, allowing the crowd to vote on their favorites, while the Hatteras Community Building served as a second destination for would-be ornithologists, complete with live decoy carving and painting demonstrations, and vivid exhibits.
Boat tours, pintail painting classes at Saltair Images Art Studio, and a Historic Hatteras tour provided by Danny Couch of Hatteras Tours presented even more opportunities to explore the wild local landscape, while a historical hunting talk and a winter bird walk courtesy of the Hatteras Island Ocean Center rounded out the fully immersive event.
With multiple activities occurring at varying points around the southern end of the island, attendees floated from one site to the next, as they tried to include all corresponding events in their schedule.
“I had never been to Hatteras Island in the winter before, but a friend told me about the [Waterfowl Festival] and I thought it sounded fun,” said a visitor from Virginia. “I didn’t know what to expect, but this is turning into one of my favorite [trips] to the Outer Banks.”
Organizers confirmed on Saturday evening that despite the rainy weather, (which has been a hallmark of February this year), the event was a success, and plans are already in the works to make a few tweaks for next year’s festival.
With charming feathered guests, a uniquely large wintertime crowd, and countless grins throughout the event, the Hatteras Village Waterfowl Festival is already shaping up to be a favorite event for islanders and vacationers alike.