MATTIE Arts hosts inaugural Blue Crab Festival

Published 7:56 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2019

SWAN QUARTER — Among outdoor activities Hyde County is known for, crabbing is high on the list in the county seat of Swan Quarter. Just down the road at Lake Mattamuskeet, crabbers can pull out some of the largest blue crabs in eastern North Carolina, and this weekend, a new festival in the heart of town will honor that heritage.

MATTIE Arts and Visitor Center will host its inaugural Blue Crab Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, bringing in vendors and visitors from throughout the region, including a few from Beaufort County.

Last year, the arts council/welcome center had planned to host an inaugural seafood festival for the town when Mother Nature stepped in. Like so many plans, that festival was blown off course as Hurricane Florence swept through eastern North Carolina. When organizers came back to the drawing board, the plan for the festival shifted from a seafood festival to focus on the stalwart blue crab.

“When we were kicking around the idea, everybody does the seafood festival,” said Jan Moore, interim director of MATTIE Arts. “The guys from the ferry service said, ‘Why can’t we do blue crab? That’s what we do. Let’s do blue crab.’”

It didn’t take long for the community to rally behind the new event. After four months of planning and preparation, Moore says the festival is shaping to be the biggest event the village has seen in the eight years since MATTIE Arts opened its doors.

The event will feature 26 vendors, food, music, kids activities and a special shrimp dinner. Mattamuskeet Seafood will be on site selling both cooked crabs and crabmeat to take home and a vendor from Washington will also sell exotic jams and jellies. Hobo Seafood is likewise helping sponsor the event.

“You name it, and we’ve probably got a booth that has it,” Moore said. “ … I thought if I could just get 14 vendors, I would be on heaven’s door, but as it turns out, we’ve got 26, and I’m still getting calls from people wanting to do it.”

While tourists coming and going to Ocracoke often frequent Swan Quarter, and Hyde County is well known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, Moore hopes the festival will shine a spotlight on the village and its people, from commercial fishermen and crabbers to artists and artisans.

“We’re just trying to show people what goes on in this area and all the talented people that are living within this county and surrounding areas,” Moore said.

As a supplement to the Blue Crab Festival, the Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Department will hold its monthly shrimp lunch/dinner on Saturday, selling funnel cakes during festival hours. For details of those activities see this week’s Pungo Living Section on page 8A. To learn more about the MATTIE Arts and Visitor Center, visit