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Ocracoke Fig Festival continues this week

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Trudy Austin’s photograph of a fig tree and the Ocracoke lighthouse won first place in the people’s choice photography contest with the Ocracoke Fig Festival. Other contenders are viewable on the Ocracoke Fig Festival Facebook page.

By Connie Leinbach

Ocracoke continues to celebrate figs this week as the Ocracoke Fig Festival continues in island restaurants and online with virtual events today.

Fig leaf ice cream and fig gin fizzes are among the innovative fig recipes unveiled at this year’s Ocracoke Fig Festival, which promotes the island’s fig culture and heritage.

These goodies are among several available online to view forever since the festival went virtual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Native islander Chester Lynn, an expert on Ocracoke fig trees, will do a live Q & A today (Aug. 12) at 5:30 p.m., watchable on the festival’s Facebook page: Ocracoke Fig Festival.

Coyote and Martin Garrish also will perform online at 8 p.m. tonight on the Fig Festival Facebook page.

The popular Fig Cake Bake-off has also gone virtual with the deadline for entries extended to Aug. 12. For details, visit the festival Facebook page.

Under sunny skies on Saturday when the festival kicked off, a steady trickle of folks visited the porch of the Ocracoke Preservation Society to purchase raffle tickets of the festival art, a quilt and a basket of figgy items; festival T-shirts, books, fig preserves, ripe figs and more.

The OPS produces the festival and benefits from the proceeds. More about the Fig Festival can be seen on their website here.

Festival organizer Sundae Horn was pleased with the turnout and noted that online sales have been brisk.

“We aim to keep the Fig Festival small and fig-focused and celebrate the local fig heritage,” she said.  “But we also want the Fig Festival to work as partners with the island businesses that use our local figs. So, we make sure to promote the restaurants that serve figs and the shops that have local fig products.”

Karen Lovejoy at the Ocracoke Fig Festival. Photo: C. Leinbach

Islander Karen Lovejoy enjoyed being out while socially distancing on Saturday.

“So many things have been canceled,” she said. “I’m not an online person but I’ve watched all the online activities and I’ve enjoyed it all. It feels a little normal.”

If anyone on the island this week is interested in raffle tickets or T-shirts, they should email Horn at ocracokefigfestival@gmail.com or call her at 252-921-0283.

Videos of Della Gaskill, Chester Lynn, both talking about figs on Ocracoke, and Trudy Austin preparing fig preserves and barbecue sauce, and the Mitchell Family Singers singing “Fig Cake” are available on the Fig Festival YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX3dUWJGsSCQEPFGPrcLlRw

Island shops and restaurants are promoting figs this week while figs are still ripening, for which this week may be the last, Horn said.

Below is a list of participating island businesses:

Figs on the menu (savory and sweet):
Ocracoke Coffee Shop: Fig scones, Fig cake, Fig muffins, Fig Bread, and Fig cream cheese.
Ocracoke Oyster Company: Fig-smoked BBQ, Fig & scallion vinaigrette
Fig Tree Deli/Sweet Tooth: Fig cake
Flying Melon Café: Sautéed Ocracoke Figs appetizer with prosciutto, rum-whipped goat cheese, arugula, & balsamic reduction; Herb-marinated pork tenderloin with Ocracoke fig & port sauce entrée; Gooey Ocracoke Fig bars with whipped cream
Back Porch Market: Figs & prosciutto appetizer, mini Fig cakes, Fig bars, Figgy Fizz drink mix.
Helios’ Hideaway: Fig balsamic vinaigrette and pizza with marinara/balsamic sauce, mozzarella and gorgonzola cheese, red onion, spinach, pancetta, & fresh local Figs
1718 Brewery: Notorious F.I.G. beer
Magic Bean Coffee Bazaar: Hot or iced lemon honey Fig latte, ginger Fig & cinnamon latte, iced Fig cake latte, green tea with Fig & hibiscus, black tea with Fig & cherries (also Notorious F.I.G. T-shirts)
Pony Island Restaurant: French toast with local Fig preserves

Figs to take home:
Local fig preserves and/or other fig products are available at these locations:
OPS Museum Gift Shop: Fig preserves & many fig-themed gifts; online/phone orders only
Village Craftsmen: Fig preserves, Leaf Peeper fig tea, also: free Fig cake on Fridays at 11 a.m.
Zillie’s Island Pantry: Fig preserves; “No pickum the figums” signs and T-shirts
Ocracoke Variety Store: Fig preserves; Trudy & John’s fig BBQ sauce
Produce by Celeste: Fresh figs! Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. by Native Seafood
Moonraker Tea Shop: Fig Cherry and Fig Berry loose leaf teas
Sea Break: Beeswax and fig candles made on Ocracoke and fig soaps made in Buxton.

Learn to cook figs
Local cookbooks with fig recipes are available at these locations:
Books to Be Red
OPS Museum Gift Shop (online/phone orders only)
Ocracoke Variety Store
Island Ragpicker

Plant a fig tree:
Fig trees are available for your garden at:
Ocracoke Garden Center
Trudy Austin & John Simpson 252-921-0102

Fig trees were for sale Saturday at the OPS Museum for the Ocracoke Fig Festival. Photo: C. Leinbach
The Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, 49 Water Plant Rd.