Sunshine and Shucking

Jenny Scarborough
Tailgaters Alex, Casey and ... a smiling ginger.
Tailgaters Alex, Casey and ... a smiling ginger.

Oysters are a delicacy, but there is nothing delicate about them.

Those in the know brought their own oyster knives and gloves to the 8th Annual OWWA Oyster Roast. The oysters this year are "good, big, nice ones," said Nathan Spencer of Currituck, who was attending the event for the third time. He and Bill Rich arrived a healthy half hour before the 2 p.m. start of the event.

By 2:30 pm, a long line coiled through the three spot parking lot of the Fish House, winding past the plywood tables on sawhorses that were surrounded by locals, cottage owners, and vacationers. People took advantage of time in line to visit.

The weather made sunglasses more necessary than a warm hat. The party spilled over onto the picnic tables at the Jolly Roger Restaurant. People pulled up trucks and golf carts to tailgate, and a distinguished-looking crowd from Hatteras came by private craft to celebrate the season.

40 bushels of oysters, 250 pounds of shrimp, and homemade seafood stew were served. The crew of watermen and women arrived around noon to prepare the feast.

Shuck me.
Shuck me.

"There are ten people working, and twenty people drinking," said fisherwoman Tree Ray, wearing her signature rubber boots. "Rudy Austin and Dan [Garrish] have been cooking stews all day. And Rex. He's good at just standing around and watching you."

Who was doing the most work?

Right now it appears to be Bob Jenkins, said Bill Evans after peering around for a bit.

"Not me!" said Farris O'Neal. "I'd give Dan the credit. He caught the least amount of fish this year and he has to do the dishes." Since Farris and Wade Austin donated more fish for fundraising fish fry's throughout the year, Dan agreed to dish duty, said Farris.

OWWA members Tree Ray and Vince O'Neal
OWWA members Tree Ray and Vince O'Neal

The event began with a few words of support from Representative Paul Tine, and a tonging demonstration by members of OWWA. The Oyster Roast is the major fundraising event for OWWA, and grows every year. There appeared to be well over 200 people in attendance.

Deborah Ross and Steve Wren were attending their third Oyster Roast. They made the day trip from Salvo in years past, and couldn't turn down the "great invite" to stay with friends Johnny and Walter, who grow blueberries in Ashe County, NC and come to their Ocracoke home when not working.

A few locals paid their money, then slipped past the lines to the interior of the fish house, where raw oysters could be found.

"Everybody likes 'em different," said Rudy Austin, who was manning a pot. Some prefer a lightly steamed oyster, while others prefer theirs a bit firmer.

Two and a half year old Charlie O'Neal scrunched up his face as he chewed his oyster. Then he smiled and reached out a hand for another.



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