A bowl of fresh Ocracoke figs. Photo: C. Leinbach

Updated Aug. 8, 2018, with the Fig Festival schedule.

Figs will be the main attraction Aug. 17 and 18 during the Fifth Annual Fig Festival on the Ocracoke Preservation Society grounds, 49 Water Plant Rd.

Activities kick off Friday with islander Chester Lynn talking about figs, the Fig Preserve contest and a traditional Ocracoke square dance.

Figs on Saturday

Events continue Saturday with vendor booths, kids’ activities, live music and the highly-competitive Fig Cake Bake-Off.   Everyone is welcome to submit a cake in one or both categories–Traditional or Innovative.

A panel of judges chooses the winners. Then all are invited to sample the cakes.

Artwork created by Kitty Mitchell for this year’s poster (see below) will be auctioned.

A dance with the Ocracoke Rockers at the Berkley Barn across the street concludes the event Saturday night.

For times and details, see schedule below or check online at ocracokepreservation.org.

Chester Lynn’s talk Friday afternoon, Aug. 17, will highlight his vast fig knowledge. He knows the varieties, the growing techniques, the attributes of each. Fourteen varieties of figs are found on the island.

Fig Festival activities this year will be at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, 49 Water Plant Rd., Aug. 17 and 18. Photo: C. Leinbach

“Some fig trees on Ocracoke have been bred and done well so long here that they’re not anywhere else,” he said.

The sugar fig, which, is the smallest fig and, according to Lynn, has been on the island for over 200 years.

“There are only a few sugar figs left on Ocracoke,” he said.

Figs were very important in the days when fruits, jellies and preserves were not easily available to island residents.

Sandy soil is why they grow so well on the island.

Old Ocracoke houses often had three fig tree varieties–the pound fig, sugar fig and brown turkey. Chickens scratched under the trees and fertilized the soil. Fresh clam shells piled around the trunks provided nutrients and helped anchor the trees in heavy winds.

Lynn, whose antiques shop, Annabelle’s, is on Back Road, also propagates fig tree varieties for sale from local trees.  He can guide customers to the right tree for their environment and assist them in successfully reaping fruit.

This summer that expertise will be enshrined in print with a book “Figments of Ocracoke: An O’cocker Says A Word,” published by N.C. State University press. (“O’cocker” is the term for a native whose family goes back generations.) He will hold a book signing at 3 p.m. on Saturday during the Fig Festival.

The following is the detailed schedule:

Friday, Aug. 17:
6 to 8 p.m. on the OPS Museum grounds: Concert with Molasses Creek

Traditional Ocracoke Square Dance Ocracoke Figs Porch Talk with Chester Lynn Fig Preserves Tasting Contest
Fig Tamales

Saturday Aug. 18:
Daytime events take place on the grounds at the OPS Museum: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Bring Fig Cake Bake-Off entries to OPS Museum

10 a.m. to 4p.m.: Vendor Booths: Fig cakes, fig preserves, fig art, fig everything!
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: OPS Museum and Gift Shop open
10 a.m.: Porch Talk & Book Signing with Jeanie Owens and Della Gaskill
11 a.m.: Live music with Kate McNally
11 a.m. to 3p.m.: Figgy tie-dye for kids with Kim Hansen
Noon: Live music performances with Ocracoke Kids
1 p.m.: Live music with Molasses Creek
1 p.m.: Storytelling for kids with Bill Jones aboard the Blanche
2 p.m.: Kids Create-A-Craft
2 p.m.: Live music with Coyote
3 p.m.: Porch Talk and book signing with Chester Lynn
3 p.m.: Fig Cakes on Display
4 p.m.: Judging (Listen live on WOVV 90.1 FM)
5 p.m.: Awards Ceremony & Fig-For-All – sharing of the fig cakes
Evening events take place at the Berkley Barn across the street from the OPS Museum
Beer, wine, and soft drinks available for purchase
6 p.m.: Acoustic jazz with Martin Garrish & Friends
7 p.m.: Fig Cake Bake-Off Awards/Announcements
7 p.m.: Country music with Martin Garrish & Friends
8 p.m.: Dance with the Ocracoke Rockers

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