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Man working on boat with nets

Working Waterman's F

The 1st annual Working Waterman's Festival took place on October 21st, 2023! If you're interested in posters and T-shirts from the event, go check out our online gift shop!


Since the first inhabitants of the island, Ocracokers have made their living on the water. Islanders originally worked as pilots, guiding ships through the treacherous Ocracoke Inlet. Their livelihood has depended on fishing, crabbing, clamming, oyster harvesting, decoy carving, and becoming guides for duck hunting and fishing. Fishing in particular is a huge part of Ocracoke's history - from Islanders becoming charter fishermen and commercial fishermen, to beach fishing and working in fish houses. All of these occupations continue today, handed down through the generations.

The Ocracoke Preservation Society has worked with local watermen to create the Working Waterman’s Festival so as to keep these traditions and the history and heritage of this important work alive. The festival plans to celebrate and bring awareness to the long history of working on the water in the Ocracoke community, as the water has been and continues to be a way of life for many who call the island home. The Working Waterman’s Festival will directly benefit the Ocracoke Preservation Society and serve as a fundraising event so that this significant piece of Ocracoke Island can be preserved.

Two men collect oysters

Vendor Booths & Exhibits

Vendor booths by the watermen themselves and exhibits displaying historical photos and artifacts will be at the festival.

Two men work on mending nets

Porch Talks

Porch talks will be given throughout the day, highlighting some of the traditions and giving more insight into the history of watermen on Ocracoke.

Two people cut and clean fish

Traditional Ocracoke Fish Fry

The fish will be freshly caught and donated by the Ocracoke Seafood Company. 

Man on boat

Silent Auction

A silent auction will take place at the festival, with all proceeds going to the Ocracoke Preservation Society. 

Ship in a Bottle

Ship-in-a-Bottle Raffle

This handcrafted ship-in-a-bottle commemorates the 5-masted schooner, the Carroll A. Deering. Artist Jim Goodwin has created this historically accurate work using an actual piece of wood from the Deering which ran aground off of Cape Hatteras, NC in January 1921, inexplicably without its crew. Raffle proceeds will be given to the Island Inn and Commons project. 

Man collecting nets on boat during sunset

Baked Goods Sale

Come to the festival and grab some sweets!

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