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Great OBX Entertainment on Tap

The sun is shining, we have a breeze instead of a howling wind, ocean waves are down to 5-6’ and life is looking good on the Outer Banks.

About time too, and just in time to dry out for two of the best weekends of the fall season. 

This coming weekend look for the Mustang Music Festival at the Whalehead Club in Corolla on Friday and Saturday. Two days of great music with three stages so there’s always someone performing. Some great national acts—Rusted Root, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Keller Williams—and outstanding local and regional bands. For a real treat, check out the kids of the Mustang Music Outreach program on the south stage from 12:30-2:00 on Saturday.

Some of the proceeds benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Then Sunday head south to the Duck Jazz Festival. The setting is sublime—the outdoor stage is framed by a small grass covered hill—and the music is always absolutely delightful. Headliner this year is Maceo Parker who was for years James Brown’s sax player and band director. Look for a lot of funk and some great sounds.

And a heads up—the following weekend, October 17 the Outer Banks Seafood Festival takes center stage at the Event Site in Nags Head. Wonderful fresh seafood served all day, the best of local bands and a good time is always had by all.

Perfect Storm 2015

Picture taken from the Joe Lamb, Jr. Facebook page. NC12 north of the Black Pelican.

We were hoping to write about some of the great things that are happening this weekend on the Outer Banks—and in spite of the weather, there has been a lot happening. 

The UNC Coastal Studies Institute hosted their bi-annual DASH (Design+Art+Science+Humanities) Festival and wow (!) was it cool. It included the Surfalorus Film Festival with some awesome independent films about surfing—everything from three minute shorts to feature length movies. Some great merging of science and the everyday as well. We’ll have to come back to that at a later date; it’s great stuff.

Jim and Sandy Williams, owners of Hairoics, celebrated their 25th Anniversary of being in business—it was a great time with some wonderful people.

Unfortunately the weather is forcing itself into the headlines. 

The Outer Banks is actually holding up remarkably well; however, there are some things to report that are important to know.

The Beach Road—NC12—north of the Black Pelican has been closed. That is the section that was repaired after the late season nor’easter undermined the road. It’s sort of a good news/bad news scenario. As far as we can tell, the sandbags and retaining wall that holds them in place are still intact. The dune, though, is completely washed out and the road is impassable. 

There is also considerable overwash on Hatteras Island, although we have not had any reports of NC12 being closed yet.

Weather reports indicate that we have another 24 hours of damaging surf and high winds, which will include two more cycles of high tides. 

Bye Bye Joaquin

Weather Underground Hurricane Joaquin track, 8 p.m. 10/1.

Break out the champagne, Hurricane Joaquin is headed out to sea. 

We’re still in for a wet and miserable couple of days here on the Outer Banks, but a wet and miserable couple of days with a hurricane to look forward to takes misery to an all new level.

Joaquin has been one of the most confounding hurricanes to predict any of us here on the Outer Banks can remember. Living on a sandbar by the sea tends to focus your attention when a major storm brews in the Atlantic—and Joaquin is definitely a major storm

One of the skills that everyone seems to acquire is how to sift through the myriad layers of information to come up with some idea of what’s really happening, but with Hurricane Joaquin the information was all over the place. There were storm tracks that had the hurricane making landfall anywhere from Myrtle Beach to Wilmington. At one point a couple of tracks brought the eye over what appeared to be Kitty Hawk . . . or maybe Duck.

Even the official National Hurricane Center track was pretty scary, showing landfall on the Outer Banks as a category 2 storm.

To their credit, though, in the discussions of their forecasts, the NHC stressed they had a low confidence in the long range forecast because of such divergent solutions. They also consistently pointed to the European model that took Hurricane Joaquin out to sea.

The latest track seems closest to the European model and all of the projected tracks are moving to the east—a very good thing indeed for everyone, since that takes Hurricane Joaquin out to sea.

Mother Nature Throws a Curve at OBX Activities

Two days of great music then organizers had to cancel Friday and Saturday of the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.

Sometimes Mother Nature will have her and there’s not much anyone can do to change that. Seems like that was the case this past weekend with so many great events scheduled on the Outer Banks, a big nor’easter and lots of cancelations.

If it was a mystery, it would be the “Case of the Nor’easter That Wouldn’t Go Away.” According to those in the know, the center of the system is sitting off the South Carolina coast and as these things go, the north side is where all the wind and rain occurs. And surf—very rugged surf.

Unfortunately what that means is we’ve had lots of cancellations of some great fall activities. The ESA Eastern Surf Championships at Jennette’s Pier managed to get in four days of competition . . .  even got a few rounds of surfing in on Friday morning, but the conditions were deteriorating from bad to dangerous, and the forecast was not very promising so they had to cancel Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.

We were really excited about the 4th Annual Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival and there was some great music on Wednesday and Thursday, but the forecast for heavy rains strong winds with stronger gusts on Friday and Saturday left organizers no choice—they had to cancel the last two days.

At least the Dare County Arts Council was able to reschedule their 26th Annual Artrageous. Still on a Saturday, and still a great time for families it should be spooky and fun. The make up day is October 31—that’s Halloween for anyone who forgot.

Braving the Wind & Rain on the OBX

Hard to imagine, but they’re getting the ESA Eastern Surf Championships in at Jennette’s Pier. Conditions are pretty rough, certainly nothing for a novice surfer to be in the water, but somehow among the 25mph NE winds, 6-8’ waves and severe chop competitors are getting some good rides.

Body boards were on the water today. There weren’t a lot of individual rides, but when they caught a wave it was good long trip. Battling back out in today’s conditions took some time, so the number of rides was down.

The weather on the Outer Banks certainly is not cooperating this week. There’s a low pressure system south of Hatteras taking it’s good old time to move west and come ashore somewhere in South Carolina . . . at least that’s what the forecasts call for.

In the meantime, it looks like four or five days of strong NE winds, 6-9’ seas, and every once in a while the heavens open up and a good soaking rain falls.

This week has a lot scheduled, but it looks as though the big event is going forward. Bring umbrellas, rain jackets and anything waterproof to Roanoke Island Festival Park for the 4th Annual Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival. It’s an outdoor event and there’s really no way to reschedule.

The Dare County Arts Council is waiting until tomorrow (Thursday) to make a call on its Artrageous festival at Rec Park in Kill Devil Hills. Although the call hasn’t been made yet, an educated guess is they’ll be moving it to the Saturday, October 31 rain date.

OBX Pridefest Wedding Expo a Great Success

Wedding Planner Renee Landry at the Pride Fest Wedding Expo.

After a weekend of activities, parties, late night shows and even some Gilbert and Sullivan, it seems somehow fitting that one of the last events of OBX Pride Fest would be the first ever Weddings With Pride Outer Banks LGBT Wedding Expo.

Held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk on Sunday afternoon, it was pretty much like any other wedding expo except it was smaller—the LGBT wedding market is still an emerging one—and only lasted two hours not two days. But it still had all the trappings of a the Outer Banks Wedding Expo that is held every January—lots of food from caterers, some officiants, great music, wedding planners.

And the couples talking to vendors were a lot like the January Wedding Expo couples . . . excited about their plans, excited to be coming to the Outer Banks to get married and asking pretty much the same questions.

The Outer Banks has been one of the premier wedding destinations in the country for a number of years, and although a number of the vendors we spoke to felt this was the right thing to do, there was also a feeling that this made very good business sense.

“This is the largest emerging market,” one of the vendors remarked.

Bonner Replacement One Step Closer to Construction

The Aging Bonner Bridge, connecting the Northern Outer Banks with Hatteras Island.

That’s one small step for a new Bonner Bridge but one large step to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to get the replacement span built. The National Park Service has just signed off on the a Record of Decision for the new bridge, and that may not seem all that important in the big scheme of things, but without the RoD from the Park Service, construction on Cape Hatteras National Seashore property can’t happen.

The RoD was expected—the NPS had already indicated they would issue it, but it’s still good to have the document in hand.

A new bridge is still a two-and-a-half or three years in the future—the hoped for completion date is 2018. The project also include a more permanent span in the area where the temporary bridge is just north of New Inlet and bypassing the S Curves on Pea Island.

Construction has not begun yet. NCDOT and engineers are finalizing plans that were put on hold during the lawsuits that halted the project. When the plans are finalized there will be permits needed from the U.S. Coast Guard and US Army Corps of Engineers. Although the permitting process is complex for those permits, NCDOT officials do not expect problems in having them issued.

If all goes as planned, construction should begin in the spring of 2016.


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