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Man working on boat with nets

Working Waterman's F

Join us on October 21st, 2023 at the 1st annual Working Waterman's Festival! It will take place from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, outside of the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, at 49 Water Plant Rd, Ocracoke, NC.


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.

Mark your calendar now for this exciting new event for OPS and the Ocracoke Community and help us honor and thank our working watermen!

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 from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Vendor Forms can be found at the bottom of this page (deadline to complete: Sept. 30th).

Two men work on mending nets

Porch Talks

Porch talks will be given throughout the day, starting (tentatively) at 10:00 AM, 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

From 12:00 -  2:00 PM (or until supplies run out), come grab a fried fish platter! 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. It will run from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM. If you would like to donate something to the auction, please Contact Us.

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. The winner of this piece will be announced at 3:30 PM. Raffle proceeds will be given to the Island Inn and Commons project. Raffle tickets here.

Man collecting nets on boat during sunset

Baked Goods Sale

From 12:00 -  2:00 PM (or until supplies run out), come to the festival and grab some sweets!

Vendor Contract

Please complete this form if you are interested in having a vendor booth at the Working Waterman's Festival, October 21st, on Ocracoke Island.

You may fill out the form online, or download a .pdf HERE. Downloaded forms must be completed and mailed/dropped off at the Ocracoke Preservation Society with a check or cash for the cost of the booth(s).

The OPS mailing address is:

Ocracoke Preservation Society

P.O. Box 1240

Ocracoke, NC 27960

Vendor forms must be submitted by September 30th!

Please read and agree to each of the following:

Ocracoke Preservation Society will not be held responsible for any liability, including lost, stolen, or damaged merchandise, or any injury incurred before, during, and after the Working Waterman's Festival.

Thanks for submitting!

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