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Fests, Fests, Fests Galore: Barbecue, lobsters and beach music attract visitors to southeastern NC this weekend

few weeks ago at a cocktail party someone commented that we should dedicate one entire month to all the festivals in Wilmington and just call it “Fest Fest.” My response: It better be a really long month. Festivals take over our Port City with a quickness and come in every size and color all year long. This weekend is no exception, as three will cover everything from barbecue to beach music to lobsters. Here’s what’s on tap…


A vintage truck and tractor show will take place at the Cape Fear BBQ Festival this weekend. Photo: Courtesy of Brenda Hewlett

June 6-7 • Opens at 9 a.m.
Old River Farms
8711 Old River Rd., Burgaw, NC

The man behind the annual Cape Fear Wildlife Expo (held every March in Wilmington) upstarted last year’s annual Cape Fear BBQ Festival at Old River Farms in Burgaw to much success. This weekend, WC Lanier will host the second event, which will feature barbecue cookoffs, antique and tractor and truck show, arts and entertainment, and more.

“We started it because we wanted to bring a different kind of festival to our area,” Lanier says. “North Carolina is well known for its barbecue, and there are many great cooks in and around this area and it is a family-fun, friendly event.”

The cookoff is sanctioned by the NC Pork Council with official judges tasting and scoring all entries using the official NC Pork Council rules and regulations. The top five winners will be announced, among 17 whom have entered.

“No rubs are seasonings are allowed on the pigs when they  are cooked so  we have a regular barbecue sauce, as well as a vinegar-based sauce that attendees can select according to their taste,” Lanier says.

They will sell barbecue plates, sandwiches and barbecue by the pound, chopped or pulled. Prices range from $4 (for sandwiches) to $7 (for plates), in addition to the $5 admission per car/truckload onto the grounds.

“We have several entries from a local Antique Truck and Tractor Club, too,” Lanier says of the antique show that will be featured. “We will have farm trucks before 1979, and tractors before 1945 and after 1946.”

The currently have 49 arts and crafts vendors slated to sell their wares, along with four bands that will play throughout the weekend. The Big Kahuna takes the stage Saturday (9 a.m. to noon) with their brand of beach music. The Imitations will play beach soul and rock ‘n’ roll on Saturday, too (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.). Saturday welcomes Nate Gordon’s classic rock (9 a.m. to noon) and Most Wanted’s Southern rock, country and beach music (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

All monies from the event go back to two nonprofits: Lanier’s own Cape Fear Wildlife Foundation and JDRF. “The Wildlife Foundation provides opportunities for kids to attend the Cape Fear Wildlife Expo and have a hands-on experience with state and local individuals that teach them about wildlife, conservation and natural resources,” Lanier says. “The donation to JDRF is for research for Type 1 diabetes. We are trying to do our part in turning Type 1 into ‘Type None.’”

June 6 • Gates open at 10 a.m.
Historic Boardwalk, Carolina Beach

Beach music on the Carolina coast goes hand-in-hand with one of the state’s official dances: Carolina shag (clogging is the other). This Saturday on Pleasure Island, at the historic boardwalk on Carolina Beach, the longest-running beach music festival in NC will take place.

“Carolina Beach is the birthplace of ‘shaggin,’ which is a combination of the jitterbug with a touch of swing,” explains Greg Reynolds, executive director of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the festival. “It is very unique to our area and to this genre of music.”

Sand will kick up in everyone’s shoes on June 6, as three three acts dedicated to playing poppy rhythm and blues are scheduled to perform. With Gary Lowden and Smokin’ Hot (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), Band of Oz (1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.) and Jim Quick and Coastline (3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.) lining up the stage, hundreds of visitors crowd the beach, armed with sunscreen, sunglasses and a heft of spirit.

“Mike Worley of Edge Entertainment keeps in close contact with the pulse of who is hot in the beach music industry and brings the chamber suggestions as to who would provide the best well-rounded show,” Reynolds explains.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and allow all-day entry. Folks can bring coolers (no glass) but not pets. Ahost of vendors are set up throughout the day for folks to purchase souvenirs, as well as adult beverages. In fact, the chamber is taking advantage of the craft-beer craze rampant in our Port City. Front Street Brewery and Carolina Beach’s own Good Hops Brewing will sell locally made beer on site.

And the fun won’t stop once the festival ends. There will be an after party at The Lazy Pirate (701 N. Lake Park Blvd.). All monies from the festival get funneled into the chamber’s numerous programs throughout the year, which include helping local charities.

June 6 • 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Church of the Servant, 4925 Oriole Dr.
Lobster line: 910-990-3331

For 31 years now, the Church of the Servant Episcopal has been celebrating the onslaught of the summer season with … crustaceans! They order fresh, north Atlantic lobsters to sell live and as cooked meals (dine-in or carry out) as a fundraiser for their church. Ten percent of the proceeds benefit outreach programs for children and volunteer projects with Stop Hunger Now, the Good Shepherd Center and College Park Elementary School. Last year the festival raised up to $17,000.

Folks can call the lobster line to order $19 live lobsters or $21 cooked lobsters (must reserve by June 4). There will be fresh baked desserts from congregation members for sale, too. Orders of 10 or more lobsters will receive free delivery in New Hanover and nearby Brunswick counties.

To place orders, visit their website,, or call 910-990-3331 or Church of the Servant at 910-395-0616. Payment must be made at the time of the order.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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