Seadrift's Shrimpfest cooks up good times (video)
SEADRIFT - Shrimpfest in Seadrift is still going strong, but surviving is something the coastal community understands.
Seadrift, population 1,300, has fallen in the path of more than one hurricane, and one of its longtime residents, Diane Wilson, went on a one-woman campaign to save its bays from chemical spills in her 2005 book, "An Unreasonable Woman."
When the shrimping business went south, resident shrimpers Bubba Hall and Wesley Blevins opened a business that not only supported area residents but also attracted out-of-towners in search of seafood.
At the festival, Monte Moncrief, another relic of the once-thriving shrimping industry, boiled shrimp, corn, potatoes and sausage in an oversized silver pot on the outdoor platform of Bubba's Seadrift restaurant trailer. He peddled shrimp baskets, boudin balls and shrimp boils to passers-by who also checked out 13 other food vendors that lined the sea wall on San Antonio Bay. In addition to his catering duties, he helps Hall in the boiling room of his seafood restaurant.
Moncrief shrimped for 45 years until regulations, an increase in diesel fuel costs and stagnant returns on shrimp forced him into the oil field for 13 years.
"When I win the lottery, I'm going to shrimp until all the money is gone," Moncrief said.
Blevins left the bay for the retail business more than a decade ago. He opened Chunky Monkeys, a fish market on state Highway 185.
Kenneth Drew Reese and his wife, Barbara, retired to Seadrift, where they were both reared.
"We like that it's a small, laid-back town," Barbara said. "All our friends are coming back, building homes and retiring here."
For the 33rd year, members of the community banded together for a weekend of food, music and fun sponsored by the Seadrift Chamber of Commerce.
Proceeds that vary from year to year support scholarships for high school students in Calhoun County and maintenance of the lighted fishing pier with a 50-foot T-head. Depending on the profits, donations have also been made to the Lion's club, 4-H and Friends of the Seadrift Library.
"We're hoping for $10,000 to $15,000 profit this year," said Nan Burnett, president of the chamber.
Other festivities included a kid's fishing tournament, 5K run, volleyball tournaments, Miss Shrimpfest contest and Miss Bay Rat contest.