MANTEO — Friday, Sept. 27, brings a celebration by the water, for the water and for the people who love the water.
“We just thought, as an organization that works to protect water quality, we can’t do it without the help of the community,” said Ladd Bayliss, a coastal advocate with the N.C. Coastal Federation. “We are able to do it because of people who live and work on the water.”
Bayliss spearheaded organizing the second annual Fish Fry and Shrimp Boil, which will take place outside the N.C. Coastal Federation’s Manteo office on Sept. 27, from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Whether you swim, surf, boat, fish or only look at local waters, the event is packed with local seafood and family friendly fun. It brings together people from all walks of life who appreciate the importance of water quality to both the economy of our barrier islands and to personal health, Bayliss said.
The fish fry is about “getting community together to celebrate what we have as far as the water quality goes,” she said.
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children under age 12. The ticket price includes local flounder and shrimp, side dishes donated by area restaurants, desserts and a choice of drink, including beer or wine. Parking will be free.
Advance tickets are strongly recommended. They are available at the Lone Cedar Café in Nags Head, Café Lachine in Nags Head, Front Porch Café in Manteo or the federation office, 128 Grenville St. in Manteo.
Federation staff hope attendees will enjoy themselves and “recognize how big of a job it is to keep it clean and also to recognize that together, problems that affect water quality are not as big when we work on fixing them as a community,” Bayliss said.
Between 200 and 250 people attended last year’s event, and the federation printed 300 tickets this year.
The proceeds benefit the nonprofit’s operating costs, so they can continue working in the community, Bayliss said.
Land fishing with N.C. Aquarium staff and cornhole will be ongoing during the fish fry.
Fishprinting will take place from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Captain Marty will tell a fishing tale at 6 p.m., and the puppet show “Captain Jack” will take place at 6:30 p.m.
Coastal Kayak of Corolla is donating a trip around Shallowbag Bay for a limited number of people, on a first-come, first-serve basis, Bayliss said. The 20-minute kayak trip begins at 5:30 p.m.
A raffle will be held, with the drawing at 6:45 p.m. Participants must be present to win prizes that include local seafood.
Troy Outland, a Manns Harbor-based commercial fisherman, is donating all the fish for the event.
“I really got to know Ladd over the past year,” Outland said. “She has been really helpful for our commission.”
The Manns Harbor Commission has been working with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to complete work on the Manns Harbor Boating Access Area by the Manns Harbor bridge.
“We’ve been working with Dare County commissioners on this also,” Outland said. “They’ve been really helpful in trying to get this facility built for us.”
The commission includes commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen who work for charter boats, a boatbuilder and a member of the Manns Harbor Civic Association, he noted, to purposefully “not have just one point of view but different points of view.”
Work on the first phase of the project was completed in December, and it was built as a multi-purpose access site for the Croatan Sound for commercial and recreational fishermen, as well as for the general public.
The final phase of the project includes additional commercial fishing facilities and a kayak and canoe launching area.
“Some docking is in pretty bad shape,” Outland explained. “The land is very low to the water on our side, so any time we have any minor storm, we have flooding on our side of the marina.”
Outland started fishing part-time in 1967 at age 15, he said, and has been fishing full-time for about 35 years.
A Currituck native and now Manteo resident, Outland said the fish fry is for a good cause.
“I hope a lot of people will show up and have a good time; that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
While it is difficult to compete with foreign markets, he said local seafood’s taste is discernible.
He is donating currently in-season, local southern flounder to the fish fry.
“Once they are able to taste fresh, local seafood, hopefully they are willing to pay a little more price for it,” he added. “I encourage everyone to eat fresh, local seafood over imported seafood.”
For more information, call the federation at 252-473-1607.