It is rather appropriate for festivals to begin when the land and the sea begin to show signs of life. I have always enjoyed Roanoke's Festival in the Park. It's a great community party, but it comes much later in the year.
There were two festivals near our home on the NC Crystal Coast recently. The first was a Saint Patrick's Day Festival sponsored by the town of Emerald Isle. The second was the 27th Annual Oyster Roast sponsored by the Rotary Club of Swansboro. Some of the marketing for the event also called it the "Annual Oyster Roast, Pig Out, and Swansboro Cotillion." I'll have to say among festivals it is an amazing one.
I have never been in a room filled with tables designed to eat steamed Oysters. I took a lot of behind the scenes pictures of how the Oysters got from the bags, to the steamers, to the tables, and back to the front end loader bucket and on to the dump truck where they'll eventually go back to the water. The photos are on a website, "Swansboro Oyster Roast & Pig Out." In ranking great community parties, I would have to rank this one high on the scale. I ate some of the most delicious, huge, plump Oysters that I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
They were wonderfully salty and in my humble opinion did not even need butter or any kind of sauce. I had more than one perfect steamed Oyster. There was plenty of other food, including Barbecue, Hot Dogs, Fried Flounder, and Clam Chowder for those who don't enjoy the challenge of prying the treasures of the sea from crusty shells. There was even a dining room with chairs for the regular plate food.
I met some really nice folks who had just moved to the Swansboro which happened to be where the wife grew up. Her father had even driven 120 miles from Lumberton, NC to act as a guide for their first Oyster Roast. I even met someone from Mount Airy, North Carolina which is my home stomping grounds.
It takes a tremendous amount of effort to pull off an event like the Oyster Roast or the Saint Patrick's Day Festival in Emerald Isle which reminds me of Roanoke's Festival in the Park which I don't plan to miss.
Events like these mark the turning of the seasons, the time when the earth and sea are awakening with the warmth of the sun. I saw bait fish in the channel behind our second home this week. With that and the Bradford Pear trees along with other spring trees showing their blooms, I guess we have made it through another winter, and it is time to celebrate.