Monday, January 27, 2014

East Coast Shag Classic in Wrightsville Beach

Some of the Cape Fear region's best-loved musicians are joining forces for the upcoming East Coast Shag Classic. The good times will begin on Thursday, January 30th and end with a bang on Sunday, February 2nd. The Holiday Inn Resort in beautiful Wrightsville Beach is the official headquarters for this event. Proceeds will benefit the local charitable organization, "Women of Hope", which is a non-profit for female cancer survivors.

Several years ago, Kenny and Elizabeth Barnes learned firsthand about the difficulties faced by hundreds of female cancer survivors. Their 32-year old daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Through her experiences, the family discovered that there was a severe shortage of support and assistance for women facing other types of cancer. The Barnes family made a commitment to fill that gap and created the Women of Hope charitable organization.

Thanks to the financial backing of numerous sponsors, help from the community, and hundreds of volunteers, today Women of Hope provides supportive services, financial assistance, educational opportunities, and advocacy to women who are going through any type of cancer from diagnosis through survivorship.

The East Coast Shag Classic is one of the charity's largest fundraisers. Here's a look at what's in store for this year's Beach Music buffs:
  • Nightly performances from The Craig Woodard Band (1/30), Jim Quick and Coastline (1/31) and the Band of Oz (2/1). On Sunday morning, guests will have a lively time with the Gospel Train, Joey Warren and the Big Kahuna.
  • Two-night and three-night packages are still available and include:
  • Breakfast each day
  • 5-star dinner on Saturday night prepared by the talented Holiday Inn Resort chefs
  • Admission to the ECSC Survivors Reception
  • Tickets to the Silent Auction
  • Admission to each nightly concert during your two or three-night stay
For anyone unable to participate in the package arrangement, there are also a limited number of nightly concert tickets available. Check their website at


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Get Ready for Competition Dining with Fire on the Dock

If you missed last year's Fire on the Dock cooking competition, here's another chance to enjoy one of Coastal Carolina's most unique dining experiences. The fun begins on Monday, January 27th and ends with an exciting cook-off on Monday, February 17th.

For the third year in a row, the series will showcase some of southeastern North Carolina's finest dining establishments and introduce the community to their talented chefs. For each evening of the competition, two restaurants will go head-to-head in a single elimination format. Without knowing which restaurant is responsible for the dishes, guests will sample three courses from each chef, for a six-course total. In addition to an outstanding meal, diners also serve as the judges by rating each dish! Their votes will determine who advances to the next round.

The interesting twist is that for each night of the Fire on the Dock competition, the evening's menu selections will be centered around a "Mystery" ingredient that is native to North Carolina. The participating chefs only learn the identity of the mystery ingredient at 12 noon on the day of competition!

For each series, the regional grand prize winner will receive a cash prize of $2,000, the coveted "Red Chef's Jacket" and the chance to move to the Final Fire-Battle of Champions in November.

Tickets for the preliminary rounds are $59 per person and do not include beverages or sales tax. The semi and final round ticket price is $69 and also excludes beverages and sales tax. Interested diners are urged to purchase their tickets in advance due to the popularity of this on-of-a-kind event.

Last year's Fire on the Dock winner was Chef Gerry Fong of New Bern's Persimmons. Fong edged out Chef Clarke Merrell of Morehead City's Circa 81 in the final round, which took place at the Bluewater Waterfront Grill in Wrightsville Beach. According to online news source, Port City Daily, the final went down like this:

"With bacon and country ham as the final secret ingredients they had to incorporate into their dishes, Fong, who bested Wilmington's own Josh Petty of Sweet & Savory to reach the final, won over the judges with an Asian-braised pork belly, a three-style ham dish called "Johnston Co. 3 ways," and a bacon-dark chocolate torte."

Is your mouth watering yet?

Here's a look at the 2014 schedule*, so far:
  • 1/27-Circa 81 (Morehead City) vs. Hops Supply Company
  • 1/28-Cape Fear Country Club vs. Prime 1079 (Atlantic Beach)
  • 2/3-1900 Restaurant vs. Olive CafĂ©
  • 2/4-Sweet and Savory vs. South Beach Grill
*unless noted, all dining establishments are in the greater Wilmington area

Learn more about the participating chefs and restaurants.

All events for the Fire on the Dock will take place at the Bluewater Waterfront Grill at 4 Marina Street, just over the drawbridge in Wrightsville Beach.

Make your reservation today, before this event sells out!

Friday, January 17, 2014

6th Annual Cold Stroke Classic | January 18th, 2014

This Saturday's weather forecast is shaping up to be picture perfect for the 6th Annual Cold Stroke Classic-SUP Race! A clear, sunny weekend is on tap with mild temps predicted in the mid-40s to low 50s and light winds! Over 120 professional and recreational paddlers from across the country and around the globe are on the race roster. Several hundred spectators are also gearing up for this exciting event!

The festivities get underway on Friday, January 17th at 2 pm with a race and stroke clinic hosted by SUP professional Dan Gavere. The clinic will take place at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort. Topics for the clinic will include a discussion about what factors make the ideal race day, plus hands on instruction for the choke down stroke technique, the bow draw, and how to paddle in rough conditions. Friday's clinic will actually feature on-the-water training with a loop around the Harbor Island course, which is just under 3 miles in length. Cost for the clinic is $30.

The race day activities scheduled for Saturday, January 18th break down as follows:
For the Recreational Division, which covers the 3.5 mile course, the registration fee is $55 and the heats are:
  • Kids 14 & under division
  • 12'6" and under Women's
  • 12'6" and under Men's
  • 14' Men's
For the Elite Division, which follows a 7-mile course, the registration fee is $75 and the scheduled heats are:
  • 12'6" and under Men's
  • 12'6" and under Women's
  • 14' Men's
  • Men's unlimited
*Please note that the cash purse for the Elite Division will be $1,250.00 spread across the top finishers in each division.

See fees and register here.
*Paddlers registering on race day will pay an additional $15

SUP Courses
To see a course map, please use this link:

The course will circle Harbor Island via Banks Channel, Motts Channel, and the Intracoastal Waterway. All races begin and end at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, host of the Cold Stroke Classic. Did you know that the Blockade Runner is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2014?!

All races will follow a Racer's Meeting at 9:30 am and are set to begin at 10 am. Spectators will have a number of excellent vantage points for viewing the race and are also encouraged to attend the ongoing exhibitors expo, which is free and open to the public.

The Awards Ceremony is scheduled immediately after the races at 12:45 pm at the Blockade Runner.

Local SUP enthusiasts are extremely pleased with the attention the Cold Stroke Classic has brought to the sport. The owner of the paddelboarding website,, John Beausang, recently reflected, "The Cold Stroke Classic launched the sport of SUP on the East Coast. It brought early pioneers and SUP ambassadors to Wrightsville Beach, including Chuck Patterson, Byron Kurt, Brandi Baksic and E.J. Johnson. It was the race that launched a hundred races."

The Cold Stroke Classic began under the leadership of Jeoffrey and Catherine Nathan, founders of Coastal Urge, a Carolina-based lifestyle outfitter. Coastal Urge also established, and continues to present, the annual Newport SUP Cup in Newport, Rhode Island..

The event also benefits SUP Cleanup, an organization dedicated to removing trash and debris from littered waterways and beaches throughout the United States.

Blockade Running Civil War Weekend in Wrightsville Beach, NC | January 17-19, 2014

Whether you're a bona fide history buff or would like to refresh your Civil War knowledge, make plans to attend this month's Blockade Running Civil War Weekend, which commemorates the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Fisher. Fittingly hosted by the Blockade Runner Beach Resort and the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, the event kicks off on Friday, January 17th and ends on Sunday, January 19th.

The action-packed long weekend promises to be both informative and fun. In an effort to give equal time to all, the events will focus on the Union blockade, Confederate blockade running, and Fort Fisher's final battle. This was of course significant, because Fort Fisher stood as the last defense for the port and city of Wilmington.

This family friendly weekend is a great way to get young people excited about local history. There will be several lectures and exhibits detailing the strategies used and challenges faced by Union and Confederate forces. By the end of the Civil War, Union troops had successfully blocked every major port and supply line throughout the south. At the mouth of the Cape Fear River alone, 82 shipwrecks occurred which today serve as constant reminders of the perils involved in blockade running.

In spite of the 82 ships that were lost, the Confederacy managed to break through the Union's blockades on numerous occasions. Of course, this was a contributing factor that prolonged the War Between the States. Ultimately, the U.S. Naval fleet stepped in and led to the Union's victorious end.

Want to learn more about this fascinating time in our history? This weekend will be the perfect opportunity! During the Blockade Running Civil War Weekend, participants will be taken on guided tours of Fort Fisher, the Underwater Archaeology Lab, and several shipwreck sites along the beach area.

Four major Civil War historians will be making presentations this weekend:
  • Chief Historian for the U.S. Coast Guard - Dr. Robert Browning - He is the world's leading expert on the Union's naval blockade practices. Dr. Browning is also the author of several books including his most recent, Success is All That Was Expected: The South Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War.
  • The former Deputy State Archaeologist of the Underwater Branch North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, and the Queen Anne's Revenge Project Director, Underwater Archaeology division, Dr. Mark Wilde-Ramsing will be on hand.
  • Leading historian in regard to Civil War coastal operations, defenses, and blockade running, Dr. Chris Fonvielle will share his insights as well. Dr. Fonvielle has published several books on the Cape Fear region's coastal defense mechanisms during the Civil War including, including The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope and Fort Anderson: Battle for Wilmington.
  • The fourth honored guest for this weekend's series is Dr. Stephen Wise. He is the museum curator for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. He has written and edited the Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War and Gate of Hell: The Campaign for Charleston Harbor 1863.
Event organizers are extremely excited about the fact that each speaker will bring a different perspective to the discussion around the events surrounding the Civil War blockade during this enlightening program.
The Weekend Package includes:
  • Speakers Friday and Saturday with dinner at the Blockade Runner Resort
  • Guided Tour of Fort Fisher with box lunch
  • Behind the Scenes tour of the Underwater Archaeology Lab at Fort Fisher
  • Tour of shipwreck sites along the beach
  • Dinner on Friday; Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday; Breakfast on Sunday
  • Optional Tours
  • Lodging at Blockade Runner Beach Resort
To learn more please call the Blockade Runner Beach Resort at 910-256-2251 or visit Enjoy!
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