Harkers Island is the Place to Be – The First Weekend of December

Harkers Island opens all the doors for the Core Sound Decoy Festival at Harkers Island School and Waterfowl Weekend at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center “at the end of the road.”  What began as a small group of decoy carvers buying and selling decoys is now a weekend island celebration of heritage, traditions and Down East pride!

“Harkers Island is the place and the first weekend of December is the time, but the story of waterfowling, decoy carving and all the other heritage crafts of Core Sound goes generations back and encompasses the entire region – from Ocracoke to Harkers Island,” explains Karen Willis Amspacher, Director – CSWM&HC.  The Decoy Festival at Harkers Island Elementary School, Waterfowl Weekend at the Museum and crafters, model boatbuilders, church dinners, yard sales and non-profit fund-raisers turn Harkers Island into a five-mile stretch of local seafood, arts and crafts and community spirit.

For those folks who attended that first decoy festival 29 years ago, the transformation has been a lesson in what a small community can do to provide economic opportunities by celebrating who and where they are. The Core Sound Decoy Carvers Guild (formed 1986) created the first step with the Core Sound Decoy Festival (1987) and from that beginning a year-round effort to preserve Down East’s cultural traditions and community spirit has been established.


Core Sound Waterfowl Weekend Schedule

December 3-4 (with a Preview Gala on Friday Evening, Dec 2) will usher in a year-long celebration to honor the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center’s 25th Anniversary.

Events and activities throughout the weekend include:

  • Core Sound’s 25th Anniversary “Core Sound Story” Exhibition Grand Opening

  • Carving demonstrations, boatbuilding and education displays from regional partners

  • Community exhibitions telling the story of Down East’s local communities

  • Retriever demonstrations along the shores of Core Sound

  • Special music throughout the weekend

  • Core Sound’s Museum Store featuring a wide selection of carvings, art, photography, pottery, model boats, NC foods and heritage-based gift items.

Shuttles run from Harkers Island School to the Museum throughout the day both days.

Waterfowl Weekend Highlights:

 Friday Evening, Dec 2

6:30 pm – Core Sound Waterfowl Weekend Preview Gala

 The Wild Game and Seafood Extravaganza will be followed by a massive dessert party with specialty coffees, live music, silent auction and a preview of more than 60 of the region’s most talented artists, carvers and crafters.  The 2nd Annual Champagne Decoy Floating Competition will welcome carvers from across the country to compete for this unique decoy carving category.  Decoys, detailed and true-to-life, small enough to fit into a champagne glass will be judged and awarded during the Friday Night event.

 Saturday, Dec 3

Doors open at 9 am with hot light rolls

 More than 75 carvers, artists, model boatbuilders and crafters of all kinds will fill the education hall, the tent, porches and outside areas with a wide selection of collectibles.

Lunch menu includes scallop fritters, stewed shrimp, fried shrimp and hot dogs along w/ Core Sound’s original sweet puppies.

Core Sound’s 2nd Annual CORE SOUND HERITAGE AUCTION at 5 pm will offer 20 select carvings for auction, providing serious collectors the opportunity to purchase decoys from Core Sound’s past, each with its own unique story. 

Sunday, Dec 4

Church at 8 am

Sunday Morning Community Church has become the true highlight of the weekend bringing together the island’s sacred music traditions from across the faith community.  Rev. Kerry Willis will lead the service, followed by a community breakfast.  After church, the Weekend continues.