By Connie Leinbach
A Sea Level resident, Lorraine Gaskill Wade, won top honors in the Ocracoke Fig Festival fig preserves tasting contest on Saturday.
Her lemon fig preserves won over 11 other entries, three others of which were hers and the rest by islanders.
Wade, along with her daughter and a friend, made the trip specially to enter her homemade fig preserves, which included strawberry fig jelly, peach with white figs and sugar figs.
Islander Robby Lewis’s preserves, which can be purchased at the Pony Island Restaurant, came in second, said Sundae Horn, travel and tourism director for the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association, which sponsored the event.
The tasting garnered 33 voters.
A frequent visitor to the island from Carteret County, Wade said she read about the festival in the August edition of “Our State” magazine, which had covered the event last year.
“I just did it for the fun of it,” Wade said as she sat in the shade in Community Square.
The two-day event concluded with a couple of vendors and a dance party in Community Square with the Ocracoke Rockers and Lightning Lou and the Blackouts.
Earlier, on Friday, Trudy Austin gave out samples and sold her fig-peach preserves, but could not attend on Saturday.
She said her preserves are made from a lemon-fig tree in her yard, planted years ago from a cutting she received from John Thomas, who lived up the street from her on Loop Road.
“He said I was not going to get a better tasting fig,” Trudy said. “I trusted him. I’ve tried a lot of them and like the lemon. It’s sweeter.”
Austin said she and Mandy Garrish Jones developed the fig-peach preserves—carrying on the tradition of being innovative with figs since Jones’ late mother, Margaret, is the one credited with creating what is now the “traditional” Ocracoke fig cake.
Decades ago, Garrish wanted to make a date-spice cake but did not have dates, so she substituted figs and started a new tradition.
Austin and Garrish’s daughter, Mandy, were “putting up” fig preserves one day several years ago.
“We were standing over the counter and Mandy said, ‘Why don’t you do something a little different and add peaches?’” Austin said. “So we’re continuing the tradition of being innovative.”
Fig preserves can be purchased all over the island at the following locations:
Woccocon Gifts and Albert Styron Store, both on Lighthouse Road
Ocracoke Variety Store, Irvin Garrish Hwy.
Ocracoke Restoration Co., Irvin Garrish Hwy.
Village Craftsmen, Howard Street
Zillie’s Island Pantry, Back Road
Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum gift shop, Irvin Garrish Hwy
Ocracoke Seafood Co., Irvin Garrish Hwy