This web site will give you a brief history of Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, our quaint seafood village, and detailed information about our annual Shrimp Festival.
Population: As of the 2010 Census, population of Sneads Ferry is 2646.
Sneads Ferry Facts
Seafood: Our fishing village annually catches over 385 tons of shrimp, 25 tons of flounder, and approximately 493 tons of other delicious seafood like clams, scallops, oysters, mullet, spots, grouper, soft shell and hard shell crabs, sea bass, etc. Information obtained from the NC Marine Fisheries, March 15, 2005. To learn more about our local fish & shrimp docks please click see the Fish Houses below.
Wild Caught American Shrimp: Of course our town is a strong supporter of American Shrimp, that’s why we are creating a page of links to direct you to the plight of American Fishermen and American Shrimp, for now please check out www.shrimpalliance.com.
History of the Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival
The Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival celebrates it’s 46th year on August 13th & 14th A tradition that began as a way to honor the local fishing community has grown over the years, drawing crowds of more than 10,000 people.
On May 3rd, 2011, the festival was named The Official Shrimp Festival of North Carolina by a bill sponsored by Senator Harry Brown and passed by the North Carolina General Assembly. This begins a new milestone in the history of the festival. So, one begs to ask, “How did the Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival get started?”
One morning in 1971, a group of businessmen got together over coffee and decided it was time they shared their delicious shrimp with the outside world and honor the fishing community that harvests them.
It was decided at that time that each subsequent festival would be held the second weekend of August. “The reason they picked August is because it’s the peak of shrimping season here,” according to Bernice Guthrie, who has been involved with the festival for the past 38 years and is the only original member still involved with the festival. “Plus, when school is out, more visitors and tourists are able to come,” she added.
The event would not be complete without a Queen, so a contest was held and a “Shrimp Queen” selected. The first festival was held on Saturday, August 14, 1971. That first year everything was graciously donated to get the festival off to a good start.
In 1972, the Sneads Ferry Community Council was formed and incorporated as a non-profit organization.
That second year, everyone pitched in, including the merchants, the Marine Corps, and the community who worked all day preparing and serving the shrimp, hushpuppies and slaw, to have an outstanding Shrimp Festival.
The Shrimp Ball was added in 1972 as well. Traditionally being held the weekend before the festival, the Shrimp Ball has grown into the largest community dinner dance event of the year. The ball introduces the newly crowned royalty to the community, offers a father daughter first dance, and friends and family gather to share good times.
In 1983, the Miss Shrimp Pageant became a public pageant, complete with talent – previously, the Queen was chosen through interviews. As the years progressed, more queens were added. The Queens Court has expanded to include a Junior Miss, Little Miss, Tiny Miss and Baby Miss. In 2011, a Shrimp King was added to Sneads Ferry’s royal family. Then, in 2012 we added additional King categories to include Jr. Mr., Little Mr., Tiny Mr. and Baby Mr. Shrimp King.
The first Shrimp Festival was held on Fulcher’s Landing in 1971. In 1972 it moved to the riverfront property where the Saratoga Restaurant was on Highway 172. In 1973, it was held at the end of Peru Road, near the water. In 1974, it was held in the field across the road from Jack Millis’ house.
“The first five festivals we had were right down in the heart of Sneads Ferry. That was the only time we had ever seen traffic jams,” according to Guthrie. Traffic caused such a problem at the earlier sites that the Community
Council needed to find a place that could accommodate all of the events at the same place. In 1976 the Community Council elected to purchase a wooded 10-acre tract of land to provide a permanent home for the festival as well as a community park for it’s residents. The Shrimp Festival has been held on that site ever since.
By 1990, the Community Council finally achieved their ultimate goal and built a community building on the site. The building serves as a meeting place for several of Sneads Ferry’s community events. As the years passed, improvements to the building were added as well as a covered band stand and covered shelters on the property. “We just improve it each year- we’re really proud of our community building,” Guthrie said.
Over the years, the Sneads Ferry Community Council has donated proceeds from the festival to help the community. They set up a Scholarship Fund in 1982 for our Miss Shrimp and a deserving high school senior living in the Sneads Ferry area. They also contributed to the startup of the Sneads Ferry Library and in obtaining land for the Fire & Rescue Squad – land that lays adjacent to the Community Building.
Through all of the changes, the Shrimp Festival has endured it has continued to grow. Currently the two day festival includes a parade, music, shrimp heading contest, fireworks, beer and wine tent, car show, military exhibits, arts & crafts, lots of food and lots of shrimp!
It’s continued success is a direct result of the dedication and determination of the citizens of Sneads Ferry and folks like you who come to celebrate not only your love of shrimp, but the love of a community that cherishes it’s past, it’s present and it’s determination to persevere in the future.