Text and photos by Connie Leinbach
Colleen Lubking of Richmond and the 10 others in her group got to the Ocracoke Seafood Company about an hour ahead of the start of the Tenth Annual Oyster Roast yesterday. It was the group’s fourth year attending.
“I like this one the best,” said Lubking’s mother, Joneen Hayes of Woodstown, Pa. She’s attended many oyster roasts, but the Ocracoke one is tops.
“I like the music, the camaraderie, the down-home folk, being out in the open,” Hayes said as she, Lubking and the others watched the Fish House staff and volunteers set up.
A cheer went up from the dozen or so folks awaiting the 2 p.m. chow time when Shane Mason arrived in the truck carrying the 35 bushels of oysters.
While the skies were overcast and a bit rainy, Teresa Ray, a commercial fisher woman who helped organize the roast, estimated more than 250 attended.
“The weather deterred some people, but it worked out well enough for everyone,” she said inside the Fish House while other commercial fishermen and volunteers continued to prep and steam the oysters.
The menu of oysters, steamed shrimp and 50 gallons of fish stew made by Vince O’Neal and Donald and Rudy Austin had some additions, this year, she said.
Ray said hush puppies were donated by the Ocracoke Oyster Company, and her mother, Carissa Vandervere of Beaufort, made shrimp and crab bisque.
“I only made enough for 90,” Vandervere said about the recipe she found on the NC Catch website. “Now that it turned out well, I don’t mind doing it again.”
Eight-time attendee Catherine Marryott of Carneys Point, N.J., and her husband Jay, said this year’s roast didn’t disappoint.
“We come at this time of the year especially for this,” Catherine said. “The crab and shrimp bisque was to die for.”
Dr. Howard Ruderfer, a chiropractor in Buxton, said he tries to attend as many oyster roasts as he can on the islands.
“It’s a wintertime thing for us locals,” he said. “I like the oysters and meeting new people around the communal table. I’ll shuck for people. I love coming over to Ocracoke.”
Ray said the Fish House got 35 bushels of oysters, 250 pounds of shrimp and 10 pounds of crab for the bisque.
Lou Castro, Aaron Caswell and Jackie Willis provided live music on the Fish House porch.
The food event is put on by the Ocracoke Seafood Company (known as the Fish House) as a thank-you to the community for supporting the fishermen’s efforts. While the event is usually held on the last Saturday in December, the group decided to have this year’s event on Wednesday because the last Saturday was the day after Christmas, said Patty Plyler, fish house manager.
Desserts donated by locals and visitors were available in the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association exhibit in Community Square.