Fire Destroys the Original Cotton Gin

Fire destroyed the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.
Fire destroyed the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.

The original Cotton Gin on the Currituck Mainland has been so much a part of Outer Banks life that it’s hard to imagine what it will be like without it. After Saturday’s blaze the left only charred remains of the store, we’ll have to face that reality.

We don’t know yet what caused it or why it burned fro eight hours and the Currituck Fire Departments were unable to put the blaze out.

We can hope the Wright family who own the Cotton Gin will be willing to and have the resources to rebuild it.

But we don’t know any of that right now.

All we know right now is that one of the most remarkable and wonderful stores ever is gone. 

Wandering through the Cotton Gin was like walking through an attic that was a combination rambling old mansion and barn. There was a randomness about how it all came together that made exploring the many rooms—none of them very large—the type of activity that could keep anyone, man, woman, child, occupied for hours.

The product selection was, well, different. In a wonderful individualistic way. That the store was successful was obvious. Why it was successful —that’s a bigger question.

In the world of retail that now exists, the Cotton Gin is exhibit A that most of the experts don’t know what they’re talking about.

This is not, or was not in this case, an example of a slickly merchandised store. Just the opposite. Instead there was a beautiful charm that it exhibited was founded on not being perfectly organized.

It absolutely would not work in almost any other store or setting. But for the Cotton Gin it was perfect.

There are three Cotton Gin stores still in existence—Corolla, Nags Head and Duck. They are very nice store; Corolla comes closest to the original. But nothing will ever quite match the original Cotton Gin.

CrabDaddy-Steamed Crab, a Perfect Day & Family Time

AYCE Crab and NC Barbecue, music and a beautiful setting. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Here’s the basic concept behind CrabDaddy, the annual celebration of crab and other things at the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg—

Eat a lot of crab. Drink some wine from Sanctuary Vineyards, or beer from the taps of the local brewery that are on hand. Bring the family—any event at the Cotton Gin is very kid friendly—enjoy life under the towering pines on the north lawn of the Cotton Gin.

And listen to some really good music.

All of that was helped along on Saturday by absolutely spectacular weather, making for as close to a perfect day as there could be.

CrabDaddy is fun. The crab is freshly caught local crab steamed by the folks from I Got Your Crabs down in Kitty Hawk. For the non crab eaters there eastern North Carolina barbecue on hand—prepared right there and it was good.

Keeping it simple, buy your ticket and it’s all you can eat.

Eating is not the only thing happening. There is also the CrabDaddy Olympics. Barrel Rolling, which the kids love, and our personal favorite…grape stomping.

Cut a wine barrel in half, fill it with grapes—muscadines in this case, turn the spigot on at the bottom of the barrel and let the two people with the grapes smushed between their toes start stomping. 

It is a gooey, sticky wonderful mess of a contest.

Next up for Sanctuary Vineyards, don’t miss their annual Big Curri-shuck the Saturday after Thanksgiving. All you can eat oysters, crabs and more.

There is always something special to do on the Outer Banks. Reserve your Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates home today and see what it’s all about.

CrabDaddy Reappears at Sanctuary Vineyards

CrabDaddy Poster

All is well on the Outer Banks as CrabDaddy makes his annual appearance this Saturday on the north lawn of the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg on September 21. That’s this coming Saturday.

Who, the uninformed may ask, is CrabDaddy, not realizing that CrabDaddy is a what as much as a who.

What he, or is it what, is is a fantastic celebration of food, family, crab, wine and beer in a beautiful setting.

Brought to the world by Sanctuary Vineyards and held under the towering pines on the north end of Sanctuary Vineyards, the event is an all you can eat crab fest. There is also a local pit master smoking up some eastern North Carolina barbecue. The wine is from Sanctuary Vineyards. The beer is local. For kids there are hay rides and what is particularly nice there is plenty of room for kids to roam around in a very safe area.

The music this year may be the best ever for the event with Almost Everything, Roots of a Rebellion and Twen on hand and a possibility of more.

Along with more food than any human can possibly consume, beer, wine and great music, CrabDaddy also features the Crabdaddy Olympics. These are competitions that should be in the Olympic lineup but aren’t—including grape stomping. Hop in a barrel, smush some grapes and get some juice.

Right now Saturday is looking fantastic, so plan on heading 11 miles north of the Wright Brothers Bridge and have a meet and greet with CrabDaddy.

CrabDaddy is just one of many special event happening this fall in and around the Outer Banks. Spend some time with Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates and see what life on a sandbar is all about.

Acoustic Sunset-A Perfect Thursday Getaway

Acoustic Sunset at the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg. A gathering under the pines, perfect for the whole family.
Acoustic Sunset at the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg. A gathering under the pines, perfect for the whole family.

There is something truly special about the Acoustic Sunset at the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg. 

Maybe it’s the setting beneath the towering pines on the north end of the property. Perhaps it’s the music. Sandbar Blues was playing tonight and their blend of classic rock with a touch of country set the mood perfectly.

Maybe what makes Acoustic Sunset so wonderful is how nice it is as a family event. Yes there’s wine from Sanctuary Vineyards available and usually beer from a local brewery, but the Wright Family who owns the Cotton Gin has always made a point of making sure their events include the whole family.

Most likely, though, it’s all of the above.

Every Thursday during the summer and into the early autumn, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. a band or a musician performs at Acoustic Sunset. It’s usually acoustic instruments, sometimes like today, the instruments are electric, but don’t expect any hard rock at these gatherings. 

This is really music that’s fun to listen to and sets the stage for a relaxing afterwork or late afternoon vacation getaway.

With picnic tables spread about and food and drink available from the Thyme and Tide Restaurant located in the Cotton Gin, the setting seems ideal.

Next week it’s Mercy Creek. Highly recommended. The best way to describe the them is a husband and wife duo. Just a drum, guitar and occasionally mandolin. And the music is acoustic…but acoustic with attitude.

This is an outdoor event, so weather does play a role so we took a look a the long-range forecast. Right now it looks promising, so gas up the car, pack up the kids and head ll miles north of the Wright Memorial Bridge next Thursday for an Acoustic Sunset.

There is so much to do and explore on the Outer Banks and Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates has the perfect beach home for your stay.

The Big Curri-Shuck…the Perfect Way to End Thanksgiving Weekend

The Big Curri-Shuck is the perfect post Thanksgiving celebration. Thanksgiving is all about food, family and just enjoying the day without worrying about eating too much or really anything.

The Big Curric-Shuck is pretty much the same thing with some live music thrown in.

Held the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg on the mainland, the premise is simple—steam a few hundred bushels of oysters and maybe some crabs as well, and let people eat as much as they want. Add in some local North Carolina barbecue, wines from Sanctuary Vineyards, beer from local micro breweries and great music…well, what’s not to like.

Sanctuary Vineyards is owned by the Wright family, the same folks that own the Cotton Gin—which is next door—and like all events held there, it is kid friendly. Hayrides for the kids all day and the music is great for dancing but the words never have to be explained.

It looks as temperatures will be mild…November mild, low 60s…with some showers. Don’t let the rain keep you away. There is plenty of covered area to feast on oysters and barbecue, so staying mostly dry should not be a problem.

Although there are a number of events sponsored by Sanctuary Vineyards throughout the year, this is the big one—and it is a great time. It does sell out every year and we’re getting close to the day of the event, so contact Sanctuary Vineyards as soon as possible about tickets.

The Big Curri-Shuck is an afternoon event with the door opening at noon and things closing down at 5:00—making it a perfect way to wrap up Thanksgiving Weekend.

The holidays are truly special on the Outer Banks. Check out the great homes that are available through Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates for the Outer Banks holiday experience.

CrabDaddy-Food, Fun, Beer and Wine

CrabDaddy-an all you can eat festival of crabs, beer and wine.
CrabDaddy-an all you can eat festival of crabs, beer and wine.

A Perfect Day in Jarvisburg

CrabDaddy we have to admit, is one of our favorite Outer Banks events of the year.

What’s not to like?

It’s an all you can eat event serving freshly steamed crabs from I Got Your Crabs as well as some fantastic local eastern North Carolina barbecue. This year the live music was provided by the Jesse Chong Band and Trae Pierce & The T-Stones.

And the wine from Sanctuary Vineyards is excellent and there were three local breweries on hand—Weeping Radish, Lost Colony Brewery and Northern Outer Banks Brewing Company—pouring some very nice beers.

Sponsored by Sanctuary Vineyards and I Got Your Crabs the event takes place on the north end of The Cotton Gin on the mainland in Jarvisburg. The setting is close to ideal; tall pine trees proved shade from the sun, and this year the sun was shining bright. The temperatures stayed moderate though and beneath the trees shade kept things comfortable all day long.

The concept behind the event is a celebration of the grape harvest. In keeping with that there his the  Great Currituck Grape Stomp, an event that proves stomping on grapes with bare feet is not the best way to extract the juice.

What happens in the competition is two wooden tubs are filed with grapes—it looked like muscadine grapes. A team of two contestant climb into each tub and proceed to stomp on the grapes hoping to be the first to fill a vessel that is catching the juice.

A sticky, sloppy mess—grape juice is very sugary—kids and adults find common purpose in the event.

The wine grape harvest this year at Sanctuary , looks like it will be ok, although it’s still too early to be sure. The summer weather was fickle with way too much rain in July followed by an August drought. They did get most of the grape picked before Hurricane Florence brought rains to the ares, so there is hope.

We’ll know next year at the 2019 CrabDaddy when the first of this year’s vintage is poured.

CrabDaddy is just one of a number of great Outer Banks events. For the best accommodation to enjoy all the Outer Banks has to check out Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates.

2017 Taste of the Beach Best Yet

A great time and lots to try at the Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates BBQ & Wings Showdown. At the Roosters booth.
A great time and lots to try at the Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates BBQ & Wings Showdown. At the Roosters booth.

Now that was a Taste of the Beach to remember…perfect weather, great food, fun crowds. As the 2017 Outer Banks Taste of the Beach goes into our memory banks, we can look back on it as an example of what happens when things go right.

What Went Right

There’s no doubt that the weather helped this year, but that wasn’t the only reason things went as well as they did.

Sometimes things just seem to fall into place and there’s no clear reason why. 2017 seemed like one of those years.

As writers we tend to focus on the big events—The Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates BBQ & Wings Showdown, the Chowder Cook-off or the Grand Tasting & Bartenders Bubbly Bash that wraps things up on Sunday.

The Events

The Chowder Cook-off winner, Stripers.
The Chowder Cook-off winner, Stripers.

In many ways, that’s out of necessity. There are so many great events happening during the Outer Banks Taste of the Week that reporting on all of them—or even a small percent of them—just isn’t possible.

The folks at Sanctuary Vineyards at the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg always have some great events and this year they added a wine pairing at their new restaurant Thyme & Tide Cafe.

Trio in Kitty Hawk is always a blast with their wine and beer pairings; Wes Stepp at Red Sky had a session talking about his Tastefully Fit. The list goes on and on, but from a writer’s standpoint the best way to give a real feel for what the event is like, is to go to the majors events where 15 or 18 chefs are on hand.

We already talked about the  Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates BBQ & Wings Showdown—amazing pork, ribs and wings. We know we ate too much but that was just a warmup for the Chowder Cook-off at Southern Shores Crossing.

A record crowd was on hand and a record number of restaurants. Big kudos to the Taste of the Beach staff for having it so well organized.

The big winner was Stripers with their Corn and Clam Chowder that was the Judge’s and People’s Choice winner. It was excellent, but there were some other ones there that were a very close second.

At the Coastal Cravings table. Coastal Cravings won the Judge's Choice for their Rockfish Ceviche Taco.
At the Coastal Cravings table. Coastal Cravings won the Judge’s Choice for their Rockfish Ceviche Taco.

The Grand Tasting & Bartenders Bubbly Bash at Port O’ Call has become a great way to wrap things up. The chefs pull out all of the stops on their creations, the champagne cocktails are innovative and delicious. What is particularly nice is the organizers made the decisions to divide the day into two sessions. In the past, with one session, at times there wasn’t enough room to move your hand to your mouth to taste the food.

The Grand Tasting is a lot of food to eat—but at least it’s uniformly excellent.

The Judge’s and People’s Choice really seemed to be spot on. The Ceviche rockfish tacos that the Judges liked was perfectly balanced between the mildness of fresh local rockfish and the tartness of the citrus for the ceviche.

The People’s Choice was the Jolly Roger crab cake. Someone commented earlier in the day that it would be nice to have a basic good old fashioned dish. That’s what the crab cakes were.

By all means, look for the Outer Banks 2018 Taste of the Beach next year. It’s four days well spent and the extra time on the exercise bike is worth every moment.

A Memorable Autumn OBX Weekend

Outer Banks Weekend Features Something for Everyone

Learning to dance at Artrageous 2016.
Learning to dance at Artrageous 2016.

This past weekend on the Outer Banks was a perfect example of why autumn is the time to come to the Outer Banks.

Saturday was filled with lots of events, all of them family friendly. Our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates. minions tried to get to everything, but we’re sure we missed something along the way.


Kids and creativity is what Artrageous is all about.
Kids and creativity is what Artrageous is all about.

If there is a better event for kids anywhere than the Dare County Arts Council’s Artrageous it would be hard to imagine.

The event is all about kids and creativity. Held every year at Rec Park in Kill Devil Hills, kids can try their hand at blacksmithing, get their face painted or create a mural on the side of a building.

Families, definitely put this on in your autumn calendars for next year.


Beautiful setting and perfect weather made Crabdaddy 2016 one to remember.
Beautiful setting and perfect autumn weather made Crabdaddy 2016 one to remember.

Perfect setting, perfect weather, lots of crab and good wine. Throw in some great music and it just doesn’t get much better.

Held at the Cotton Gin the last Saturday of September every year, Crabdaddy is part celebration of the autumn grape harvest and a wonderful celebration of the bounty of local waters—in this case blue crab.

Sanctuary Vineyards is owned by the Wright Family, the same family that owns the Cotton Gin so the setting makes sense.

The wines have shown steady improvement over the years and they are very good now.

Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival

Soggy Mountain Boys headlined Saturday night at the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.
Soggy Mountain Boys headlined Saturday night at the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.

The outdoor stage at Roanoke Island Festival Park is spectacular the bands were among the best in Bluegrass. By the time things wrapped up on Saturday evening there was no doubt that the 2016 Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival was something special.

It helped that the Soggy Mountain Boys were the final act. Putting a very traditional spin on what bluegrass is all about, some of their sounds would have fit right in 75 or 80 years ago.

Next big weekend is Columbus Day–Mustang Music Festival on Friday and Saturday and the Duck Jazz Festival on Sunday.