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Apr 28, 2009 09:22 AM

NC farm dinners, fire dept bbqs, chili/stew cookoffs, creek oyster festivals, fish frys, etc. thread

This coming summer and fall will be my last in North Carolina (at least this time around). I think I've done a great job seeking out excellent foodie experiences here over the past few years. However, I haven't immersed myself in the local "community" events that small towns tucked away on creeks and in forests around this great state hold on various occasions. I think I'd be missing out on my NC experience without seeking these out during the upcoming seasons.

A lot of these events are hard to find and require a lot of "local" or firsthand knowledge. So let's make this an ongoing thread - to share upcoming events we know of, or our previous experiences with some of them. The important element of the festivals we should list here is the FOOD. So let's maybe not list the huge commercialized events like the NC Seafood Festival in Morehead City or the Lexington BBQ Festival, but smaller home-grown events where the recipes are timeless, the pots are from local kitchens, and the tradition trumps all. I'm talking about stuff like the volunteer fire department bbqs that you'll sometimes see a handwritten sign for on the roadside indicating an upcoming weekend (so if you see something like that, PLEASE POST), or a church fish fry (open to the public), or a small community event that's high on quality but low on publicity.

To get us started, here are a few that have come to my attention (some I list are a bit on the "popular" side, but that's exactly why this thread might be useful to uncover the hidden gems):

Mill Creek Oyster Festival - Carteret County - first weekend of November - has been going on for 30-some years, run by the Mill Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Described as "annual oyster roast in November is an all-you-can-eat feast for one reasonable charge, usually around $12. Also fish and shrimp available. Side dishes include baked beans , cole slaw, and hushpuppies.

Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival - August 8-9, 2009 - a community-run event supporting one of the last working waterfronts in the state. http://www.sneadsferryshrimpfestival....

Ayden Collard Festival - September 12, 2009 - the collards are cooked by Bum's in Ayden - best collards I've had in my life, so this can't be a bad thing.

Fayetteville Greek Orthodox Church spaghetti dinner - mid-November - some say this is the best spaghetti they've ever had, and the recipe for the sauce is as tightly-guarded as the Coca Cola formula -

Person County Saddle Club - (multiple times per year - need more info.) - Brunswick Stew bashes and August Earthen Beef Roast

Valle Crucis Country Fair - October 17, 2009 - this is my favorite event of the year of community events I've attended so far - an oversized church bazaar with amazing foods - apple cider, apple butter, Western NC style BBQ, chili, muffins, slaw, jams, preserves, homemade baked goods.

Elodie Farms Dinners on the Porch (near Durham, NC) - monthly - this is WAY at the other end of the spectrum, but features many of the Triangle's best chefs cooking exclusively with farm-to-table ingredients.

Celebrity Dairy Sunday dinners - Chatham County - very similar to the Elodie Farms events -

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  1. You may be too late for the ramp festivals in the western part of the state. You are welcome to my share of what's left. Google nc ramp festival ... for info.

    1 Reply
    1. re: blewgo

      The White Top Ramps Festival in Virginia is late -- I always wonder how high they have to climb to still find ramps in May.

    2. Excellent idea. I've seen a few signs recently, so I'll make a note of the dates tomorrow on the way to/from work.

      1. The Blue Ridge BBQ Festival lets you eat what the competitors are cooking, not commissary prepared BBQ like some BBQ events.

        2 Replies
        1. re: blewgo

          ahh, this is a good one. I never understood the concept of holding a BBQ cookoff where patrons couldn't even taste what was going on.

          1. re: blewgo

            There's a similar event at the NC Fairgrounds in Raleigh. It's the Got to Be NC Festival. The festival dates are May 29-31. The "NC Pig Jig" BBQ contest is Saturday, May 30, 11-3:00. There's also the NC Food Expo, all three days. Lots of NC foods and wines. Last year, I ate a couple of meals just with the samples. :-) AND there's a carnival with "Fair foods."

          2. The Cullasaja Gorge Volunteer Fire Dept. in Franklin is having their annual ramp festival this very weekend, Saturday May 2, 4 to 8 PM. They are located on Hy. 64 about 2 miles east of town. They mostly serve fried chicken and potatoes with ramps, but if you ask nicely you can get mostly ramps and pass on the rest, especially if they are near the end and have a fair amount left.

            1. Eastern Pines Volunteer Fire/EMS bbq fundraiser is tomorrow:


              Looks to be located adjacent to the Episcopal church on Firetower Rd., near the 14th St. intersection.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Naco

                wow, this is exactly the sort of scoop I was hoping for. Will try to make it over there if I can finish this term paper...