By: BladenOnline team
On Monday, April 10, the Blue Monday Shad Fry of North Carolina is happening at US Lock & Dam #1. This event offers a taste of history and culture and is free for everyone to attend.
The American Shad, a saltwater herring fish, migrates to North Carolina rivers yearly in early spring to spawn in the Cape Fear River. According to the Natural Sciences website, these fish species are an essential part of the food web in North Carolina. Natural Scientists also report, “American Shad played a significant role in the survival of the indigenous people, and the first settlers to the New World.”
State officials recognized this tradition about 10 years ago. NC House Representatives Ken Waddell and William Brisson proposed House Bill 241 as an Act to make the Blue Monday Shad Fry in East Arcadia the official State Blue Monday Shad Fry.
One of the event coordinators, Jerry Graham, explained after the death of the event’s original coordinator, Mr. Carter community members came together to continue the annual fish fry. Graham, Jesse Blanks, and Wendell Brown are some of the event organizers recognized in 2013 by the State as keeping the tradition alive.
Graham said, “The way we collect the fish has changed a bit due to State laws on fishing.” According to Carolina Country and Mr. Graham, overfishing and the creation of the North Carolina dams caused a decrease in the fish spawning in the Cape Fear River. However, NC Wildlife agencies and the Army Corps of Engineers have worked together to help the fish repopulate.
Graham reports the fry continues to garner support from local communities and receives visitors from across the State and country. The fish fry is a time for people to enjoy a taste of history and culture while reuniting with community members.
There is no charge for a plate of American Shad with sides during this event. Graham explained the organizers cook everything on the “Founding Fish,” including the eggs. Around 500 to 1,000 people participate in the annual local shad fry experience. Plan to attend the Blue Monday Shad Fry held at US Lock and Dam #1 at 996 Locks No 1 Road in Riegelwood, NC. The fish plates will be offered to all who attend from 11 am until 2 pm on Easter Monday, April 10, 2023.