Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival Looks Better Than Ever

Things are looking great for the 2017 Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival this year from October 4-7. After Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc with fall entertainment plans last year, there’s a certain karmic balance to having great weather on tap for this year.

The show runs Wednesday through Saturday with a special Tuesday performance at Bluegrass Island in Manteo.

Held at Roanoke Island Festival Park, the Festival has become one of the premier bluegrass festivals around. There is so much talent in the groups that it’s hard to tell just who is the headliner.

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage has been at every show since promoter Cory Hemilright began back in 2012. She and her band are some of the finest musicians around, and anytime she takes the stage, there’s energy, professionalism and a good time. Look for her Friday night at 9:30.

The act just before her, Flatt Lonesome, is a great band of younger musicians. Talented and energetic, they put on a great show.

This is an all day affair. Music starts at noon and except for a daily dinner break goes straight through until the last act takes the stage at 9:30.

A true festival, lots of food at the site from local Outer Banks restaurants and Cory tells us there are more art and craft vendors than ever this year.

Hard to list everyone who will be on hand, but the last act of the show, may be worth hanging around to see. The Isaacs are a Grammy nominated gospel group whose vocals are amazing.

The Bluegrass Festival is one part of an amazing week of music with the Duck Jazz Festival finishing out the week on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 4

The Sowell Family Pickers

CommonWealth Bluegrass

Alan Bibey & Grasstowne


Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver 

Thursday, October 5

Charlie Oakley & Blazin’ Grass  

Carolina Blue

Irene Kelley 

Steve Dilling & Sideline


The Gibson Brothers

Friday, October 6

Heidi & Ryan

Code Blue

Nothin’ Fancy

Love Canon

Flatt Lonesome

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage

Saturday, October 7

The Grascals

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Billy Strings & Co.

The Sowell Family Pickers

Jimmy Fortune

The Isaacs

Beach Nourishment Begins in Duck

Beach nourishment construction zone in Duck.
Beach nourishment construction zone in Duck.

The first 200’ of the Dare County Intra-Local Beach Nourishment project has been competed in Duck.

Crews been working last week and made good progress in spite of some thunderstorms that rolled through the area. The schedule is pretty aggressive so crews are working seven days a week.

A Construction Zone

Beach nourishment calls for an active construction zone, and Great Lades Dredge Company, who has the contract to place the sand on the beach, has a lot of experience in the field. As a consequence the area they are working in is clearly marked as a construction zone.

Plans call for minimizing the impact of the project for Outer Banks visitors. Construction zones, as an example, are limited to 500’, creating plenty of sandy space on both sides.

Planned Schedule

The first phase in Duck should take 45 days. Equipment will then be moved to Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores. Southern Shores is a bit late to the nourishment party, the decision to nourish about a half mile of shoreline came after Hurricane Matthew devastated the beach in front of Pelican Watch.

Southern Shores did not officially vote to participate until March of this year.

The Kitty Hawk portion of the project is the most involved and according to the design team from Coastal Planning and Engineering of North Carolina the work will take 74 days, beginning in early July and ending in September.

Included in that work is a one week window in June to complete the Southern Shores portion.

Work in Kill Devil Hills will being in August and plans call for it to take about 40 days.

The appearance of the Duck beach is typical of a newly nourished area. Much wider than it was before nourishment, by design a portion of that sand will be returning to the sea to create a protective sandbar.

Beach nourishment does take a long-term commitment. Typically a beach has to be renourished in five to seven years. The Nags Head beach, which was nourished in 2011, is due to for a touch next year, seven years after the first phase of their project ended.

Replenishing, however, is not as expensive as the first go around nor does it take as long.

A Mostly Good 2016 Year in Review

2017-a mostly good year.
2016-a mostly good year.

2016 was certainly an interesting year. Most of it was really positive and and there is not doubt the Outer Banks is still the best place anywhere for a family vacation.

Some of the headlines, though, were not as pleasant as others, and a lot of those unpleasant headlines were all about the weather.

From cold-stunned turtles in January to the surprise visit from a powerful Hurricane Matthew, the weather was in the headlines on the Outer Banks.

Still, it was a good year on the Outer Bank. Here are some of the highlights…and yes, the lowlights of the weather.

Replacement for Bonner Bridge Breaks Ground
Ground breaking for the Bonner Bridge.
Ground breaking for the Bonner Bridge.

Long overdue, but at long last the replacement span for the Bonner Bridge is finally moving forward. Here’s what we wrote:

“Three years from now and a few hundred million dollars later, a replacement span for the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet will finally be in place. Today marked the official beginning of the process as politicians came from Raleigh and Washington, DC to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new bridge.”

100th Anniversary of the National Park Service-New Citizens Welcomed
Receiving the certificate of citizenship.
Receiving the certificate of citizenship.

With such a large presence on the Outer Banks, the centennial of the National Park Service was important. There were a number of special events in conjunction with the celebration, none more compelling than a swearing in ceremony for new citizens.

“Thirty-nine new citizens were welcomed to the Outer Banks yesterday at a swearing in ceremony at the Wright Brothers Memorial.

It was an amazing event—emotional, awe-inspiring and perhaps a little bit intimidating with the realization of what these newest Americans coming from 23 countries have gone through to follow their dream.”

Roanoke Island Aquarium Gets a Facelift
Extensive renovations at the Roanoke Island Aquarium have left the otter exhibit alone.
Extensive renovations at the Roanoke Island Aquarium have left the otter exhibit alone.

Delayed a year to get the budget for renovations in shape, the payoff was a spectacular result.

“After a false start and a couple of construction delays, the renovation of the Roanoke Island Aquarium–the Outer Banks only aquarium–is almost complete. It’s open now and even though a couple of the exhibits aren’t quite ready yet, what there is a really exciting.”

The Weather

The weather for 2016 can easily summed up. When it was good it was very good. When it was bad, it was very bad

Cold Stunned Turtles Early January

loggerhead turtle
Cold Stunned Loggerhead at Roanoke Island STAR Center

“The STAR Center at the Roanoke Island Aquarium was designed as a care facility for injured and sick sea turtles, but never anything on this level. The problem, according to Christine Legner who oversees the facility, with all the warm weather, the turtles “ . . . just didn’t get the cue to leave.”

Tropical Storm Hermine

“It looks as though we have another day of high surf battering the Outer Banks as Tropical Storm Hermine spins away out in the Atlantic. All sign point to her meandering a bit and then moving out to sea, but it does look as though tomorrow, Monday, is not going to be a good beach day.”

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew was an unwelcome and unpleasant surprise. We knew it was going to rain a lot; we knew the winds were going to be strong, but the Outer Banks seemed to get more than expected.

Outer Banks Matthew Recap

Construction on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk, repairing damage done by Hurricane Matthew.
Construction on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk, repairing damage done by Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew is almost two weeks gone and we’re still dealing with the lingering effects here on the Outer Banks.

Everything is open and there is plenty for our visitors to do, but look around and evidence of its passage is not hard to find.

Large puddles still cover some parking lots and lower lying roads. For our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates. guests hailing from towns and cities away from the coast, it may seem strange. Living on the coast, however, there is an acceptance that we’re at sea level, and there is no place for the water to drain to.

The other part to why the water is still there…it’s actually ground water. The rains fell so hard and so fast and there was so much of it, that the water table rose to the surface. The water table is subsiding, but it is going to take another couple of weeks.

Different areas of the Outer Bank suffered different amounts of damage. Our friends down on Hatteras Island really got hammered, but roads are open and things are just about back to normal.

We had some of the worst flooding we’ve seen on the ocean side in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. In Nags Head two of our favorite places on the Beach Road, Seagreen Gallery and Surfin’ Spoon, really took a beating. Seagreen should be reopening soon if they haven’t already—we didn’t get a chance to check this week. Surfin’ Spoon will take longer; they lost some of their equipmen.

Most of the Outer Banks roads came through remarkably well. The glaring exception is the Beach Road in front of the Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk. Just to the north of where the ocean wiped out the road, NCDOT had replaced the road last year and protected the roadbed with giant sandbags. The process is being extended to the new section that was damaged. Construction typically takes about one to two months so expect the road to be reopened sometime around Thanksgiving.

Outer Banks Seafood Festival Delivers

It's all about seafood at the Outer Banks Seafood Festival.
It’s all about seafood at the Outer Banks Seafood Festival.

The 5th Annual Outer Banks Seafood Festival at Nags Head on Saturday was a great reminder about what the Outer Banks is all about. And it feels so good to put Hurricane Matthew in the rearview mirror. There’s still cleanup to do, some damage to assess, but it sure did feel good to have a day in the sun with great food, great music, a fantastic crafts area and lots of people on hand.

What makes it even nicer is the Seafood Festival really is a celebration of the history and culture of the Outer Banks.

A  lot of out of town visitors were on hand and that is great news. As always the folks from Virginia seem to love coming to the Outer Banks, but we also had visitors from all over the United States. A map with a message reading “Tell us where you’re from” showed visitors from Oregon, California and even Utah. Most of the festival goers were, or course, from nearby states, but a surprising number seemed to hail from upstate New York and New England.

There was a very real sense of celebration about this year’s festival. The music was great and people were dancing. Local groups The Crowd and Old Enough to Know Better really seemed to hit a chord (ok, that was a pun) with the crowd and people were up and dancing.

Mathew is still on the minds of Outer Banks residents, and it was good to see the Outer Banks Community Foundation on hand to talk about their relief fund. Everything they take in to their relief fund goes back to the community including the interest they’re charged on credit cards.

It was nice to hear from the Festival organizers that a portion of the proceeds was going to be donated to the OBCF for disaster relief.

Outer Banks Seafood Fest-Expect a Great Time

Outer Banks Seafood Festival this Saturday.
Outer Banks Seafood Festival this Saturday.

The Outer Banks Seafood Festival is coming at just the right time. Gates open at 10:30 on Saturday and the food and entertainment keeps going until six. The setting at the Nags Head Event Site is perfect with Roanoke Sound as a backdrop and helping to create what looks like an ideal day, the forecast is calling for bright sunshine and a high temperature of 70.

And that is the way to put Hurricane Matthew behind us!

There is no doubt that Matthew walloped the Outer Banks. Nothing at all like the reports we’re getting from mainland North Carolina, yet, here it is Thursday and there is still standing water in some roadways and yards.

The first damage estimates have come out and Dare County officials have set a preliminary figure of $42.6 million. Hardest hit area was Hatteras Island, but every area of Dare County experienced some damage. We haven’t heard a damage estimate for the Corolla area yet, but the flooding in Corolla and Carova was significant.

With all of that in our rear view mirror, the Outer Banks Seafood Festival is coming along at just the right time.

If past is any predictor of future, it will be magnificent.

This is the fifth Seafood Festival and the food is always spectacular. Couple that with excellent music from local bands, Mojo Collins and Triple Vision, The Crowd and Old Enough to Know Better and great day is assured. Adding to the mix, the Outer Banks Seafood Festival truly family friendly event.

There is no onsite parking for the Festival. Some people park at the Tanger Outlet Mall about a quarter mile to the south and walk to the event. There is also offsite parking available with shuttle service.

OFF-SITE PARKING LOTS ■ Blue Whalebone Parking Lot

Across from Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head

■ Green Dowdy’s

3100 S. Wrightsville Ave. Nags Head

■ Red Nags Head Town Hall Parking Lot

54100 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head

■ Purple Dare Co. Admin Center Lot, Manteo

954 Marshall C. Collins Street, Manteo

■ Gold TowneBank

2808 S. Croatan Hwy, Nags Head

The – AfterMatthew –

A State in disarray but a community united.


Hurricane Matthew was a force to be reckoned with beginning with devastating results in Haiti and working its way through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The effects from this storm will be felt for months. Harsh winds, heavy rains, flash flooding, storm surges and complete destruction were all apart of Mother Nature’s plan. What she didn’t plan for was the strength of our community. 

MP 4.5 infront of Black Pelican, Kitty Hawk NC
MP 4.5 infront of Black Pelican, Kitty Hawk NC

My heart is filled with warmth from the compassion and empathy that has been expressed throughout our entire community. As I look around and see places still without power, homes flooded, trees down and business devastated. I also see helpful hands being extended and friendships being forged. It is during these tough times that we realize we are only as strong as our neighbor. Throughout our entire community I have witnessed an extraordinary amount of compassion & empathy.

From neighbors helping one another clear out debris, to strangers helping push cars out of flood waters. While friends are donating their clothing and furniture to others that have lost theirs, small business owners are offering a free meal to our devoted line-man and first responders.

14516456_10154137236828655_6511698631734710394_n I would like to use this blog post to extended a Thank You out to our OBX community. The compassion, strength, patience and grace that I have witnessed over the last week has truly warmed my heart and restored my faith.

Thank you to the line-men & tree-services that have been working diligently to restore power to our homes and clean up debris in our streets.  Thank you to our County & to all the individual towns for providing such quick information & updates. Thank you to our first responders and to ALL emergency personal that have been out helping and protecting our friends and family.

Thank you to our visitors & our owners for showing great patience and understanding. A HUGE Thank YOU to our staff, fellow peers and outstanding community. We may still be cleaning up after Matthew but the task seems a little less daunting with all of your help and support..

To every member of our community and to our surrounding communities; You are in our thoughts & we value your strength during this trying time.


OBX Matthew News-This Weekend and Beyond

Hurricane Matthew should be long gone by next weekend when the Outer Banks Seafood Festival takes center stage.
Hurricane Matthew should be long gone by next weekend when the Outer Banks Seafood Festival takes center stage.

Even though it looks as though Hurricane Matthew is going to pass well to the south of the Outer Banks as it heads out to sea, we’re still feeling some of the effects of the storm. Nothing at all like Florida is experiencing—and Georgia and South Carolina after that, and we really hope coastal residents in those areas are staying safe and out of the way of the wind and surging seas.

One of the characteristics of tropical systems is they pump a lot of moisture into the atmosphere. That moisture is coming down locally in the form of rain and a lot of it…6-8” on Saturday into Sunday.

That rain—and it’s going to be windy too—means two of the best music festivals around had to be canceled. The Mustang Music Festival and the 10th Annual Duck Jazz Festival will not be happening this year.

A piece of good news: The 24th Annual Parade of Homes is going forward, and talking to some of the builders today, it looks as though the turn out was pretty good.

The ocean is certainly stirred up right now, and there has been some overwash; the Beach Road around the Black Pelican is closed and NCDOT crews are working to hold the ocean back, piling sand on the dune line as quickly as they can.

If this weekend seems too wet, think about visiting us next Saturday for the Outer Banks Seafood Festival. The early read is the weather looks great.

For some great information about local effects of Hurricane Matthew, check out the National Weather Service briefing: http://www.weather.gov/media/mhx/LatestBriefing.pdf