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The Ocracoke Fig Festival

The 11th annual Ocracoke Fig Festival will take place August 2nd-3rd, 2024. The festival will have live music, a traditional Ocracoke square dance, children’s crafts, talks by local fig experts, and vendor booths offering fig preserves, fig cakes, fig trees, and other fig-tastic items. The weekend’s finale will be a dance with the Ocracoke Rockers. We can't wait to see you there!


Excited for the festival? You can find fig related items, such as the 2023 Fig Festival T-shirts and posters, in our museum gift shop.


The Ocracoke Preservation Society along with local Ocracokers organize the annual Fig Festival, preserving and sharing the island’s fig history with new generations and visitors. Figs have been growing on the island for hundreds of years, and many native Islanders have memories of picking the fruit with their families, making fig preserves, and sharing fig cake. The Ocracoke Fig Festival directly benefits the Ocracoke Preservation Society and serves as a fundraising event so that these Island memories and more can be preserved.


The Beginning Of The Traditional Ocracoke Fig Cake 

Once upon a time, Margaret Garrish, an Ocracoke housewife, wanted to bake a date cake. But here she was, stuck on an island, with no dates in her pantry, so she substituted with something she had on hand: fig preserves. Thus, the Ocracoke fig cake (as we know it today) was born.

Before that, the Ocracoke Fig Cake was made with much simpler recipe. According to the vintage “green” cookbook, Ocracoke cooks used a “regular butter cake recipe” baked in thin layers, then spread a quart of fig preserves between the layers. 

Margaret was born on Ocracoke in 1936, grew up in Norfolk, VA, and returned to Ocracoke in 1956 when she married Danny Garrish. She and Danny raised four children on Ocracoke (three still live here) before he passed away in 1991. Margaret was active in the United Methodist Church and served on the Hyde County Board of Education for eleven years. She died in 2002, leaving behind her four children, nine grandchildren, two sisters, and the legacy of the Ocracoke Fig Cake that the island considers the Traditional Recipe. By the time the United Methodist Women published their “yellow” cookbook in ‘70’s, four women submitted the same basic recipe, but Margaret’s was listed first.

Want your very own Ocracoke cookbook? You can purchase them from our gift shop! Click the links below:

2024 Special Guest Chef:

Sheri Castle

Sheri Castle will be our Special Guest Chef for the 2024 Fig Festival! She is the host of The Key Ingredient, an Emmy-winning cooking show from PBS North Carolina that airs across the country. Sheri is also an award-winning professional food writer, recipe developer, and cooking teacher known for melding stories, humor, and culinary expertise. The Southern Foodways Alliance named her one of 20 Living Legends of Southern Food, calling
her The Storyteller. Sheri grew up in Watauga County, North Carolina in her beloved Blue Ridge Mountains and now lives in Chatham County. Keep tabs on her through

Sheri will be making an entrée dish for the Savory Fig Dinner this year, as well as hosting a Cooking Class & Luncheon for the Fig Festival. She will also be a judge at the Fig Cake Bake-Off and signing copies of her cookbooks during the Festival! 


Savory Fig Dinner - "Garden Fresh"

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Sheri Castle will be the Fig Festival’s special guest at the “Garden Fresh” Savory Fig Dinner on Thursday evening, August 1, 2024. The dinner will be held at the Ocracoke Community Center.


This popular fundraising event features savory fig dishes from local chefs; this year’s entrée will be pan-seared chicken thighs with fig sauce, the dish that Sheri prepared for her Ocracoke figs-themed episode of The Key Ingredient! The episode - called "Figs Galore" - features Trudy Austin and Gail Umphlett of Ocracoke!


In addition to the delicious food being served, we will also have musical guests for the dinner - Kim France and David Tweedie!


Space for the dinner is limited and this is a ticketed event. Tickets will go on sale on Monday, July 1, 2024.


This is a fundraising event for the Ocracoke Preservation Society.

Cooking Class & Luncheon with Sheri Castle


New this year, the Ocracoke Fig Festival will be offering a cooking class and luncheon with Sheri Castle!


This will take place on Tuesday, July 30, 2024.


Sheri will share cooking tips and techniques in an informal setting to a small group of students while making a delicious luncheon served up with Fig Mimosas!


Space for this event is limited, so tickets will be required. Tickets for the class go on sale on Monday, July 8, 2024.

This is a fundraising event for the Ocracoke Preservation Society.

Fig Cake Bake-Off 

The Fig Festival's sweetest event will take place Saturday afternoon with the Fig Cake Bake-Off! Sheri Castle will be serving as a guest judge.

All are welcome to submit a cake in one or all categories: Traditional, Innovative, Youth (15 and younger), and the special category for 2024, Garden Fresh Figs!


Garden Fresh Figs will include any dish that incorporates fresh figs and any other summer garden ingredient. The Traditional category is limited to the old-fashioned recipe, available in local cookbooks and listed above. Even as our bakers use the same recipe, there are subtle differences: the type of fig preserves used, the delicate balance of spices, or the cook’s magic touch. Innovative entries must be desserts, and anything goes in the Youth category as long as there are figs in it!

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Cookbook Signing and Public Q & A with Chef Sheri Castle

Sheri Castle will be signing copies of her cookbooks on Friday afternoon, August 2nd, 2024, at the Berkley Barn. Cookbooks will be available for purchase in our gift shop.


Sheri will also be answering your questions on Saturday with a public Q & A.

Previous Years' Special Guest Chefs

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