Favorable weather and the lure of succulent seafood brought out the crowd last Saturday for the annual Oyster Roast to benefit the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association.
About 250 people stood or sat to shuck cooked oysters and peel shrimp outside the Fish House in the village. Along with the 30 bushels of oysters and 225 pounds of shrimp, the crowd consumed two huge pots of fish stew made by Van O’Neal, noted Hardy Plyler, who works for the Fish House.
“We come every year,” said Catherine Marryott, from Carney’s Point, N.J. She and her husband, Jay, stay for the holidays with her sister Mary Creech and her husband Kipp, who live in Point Harbor, Currituck.
“This is our fifth oyster roast,” Marryott said. “We come to Ocracoke for the day purposely for this. We’ve met so many great friends here.”
They have been to oyster roasts in Chincoteague and Urbanna, Va., and prefer Ocracoke’s for its smaller size – meaning that they don’t have to wait in line for hours to get their food, she said.
Some of the people they’ve met include Blithe Riley, Annie Shaw, Jay Zevin, Matt Ryan from Brooklyn, NY, and Lauren Cumbia from Chicago.
“We just happened upon it in 2007,” said Riley, who said their group rents a house in Frisco and makes a day trip to Ocracoke. “I love it because we meet new people every year and we see Cathy and Jay every year.”
Ocracoke’s newly elected state representative Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk attended.
“Oysters and Ocracoke?” he said. “Oh, yeah. I’m happy to be here.”
“This is a great turnout,” noted Patty Plyler, who works with her husband Hardy at the Fish House. A downpour in the morning had her a bit worried, but the sun broke through around noon and stayed out all day.
And while good weather always helps boost attendance, inclement weather would not have canceled the event.
“We would have moved it inside,” said Robin Payne, executive director of the Ocracoke Foundation in Community Square where the OWWA exhibit is housed and where dessert was offered along with cider warmed on the wood stove. “That’s the life of the watermen—they work in all kinds of weather.”
All the food was consumed, Plyler said, and the event grossed $6,000. Proceeds will help fund OWWA’s education and outreach activities.
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