It’s Taste of the Beach weekend and if ever there was a reason to visit the Outer Banks in  the springtime, this is it. As much a celebration of some amazing chefs and their creativity as it is tour of every town and village between Manteo and Corolla, if there is one local annual event not to miss, this is it.

The big event today, Saturday, was the OBX Chowder Cookoff at Southern Shores Crossing in Southern Shores. An outdoor event, it helped that the weather was absolutely beautiful–deep blue sky, gentle south breeze, temperatures in the mid 60s–but this is a competition that has been steadily growing in popularity since it started about nine or ten years ago.

We left before the Judge’s and People’s Choice awards were given and we’re just thankful we didn’t have to be one of the judges because naming a best seems an impossible task. A couple really appealed to our tastebuds, but there wasn’t a weak entry in the lot.

The smoked turkey and clam chowder from Kill Devil Grill was rich and creamy; the Hatteras style clam chowder from Coastal Cravings in Duck may be the best of that basic type of chowder we have encountered. Actually our favorite, we couldn’t vote on–Coastal Provisions was the host for the event and chef and owner created an oyster on the half shell with with a little bit of chowder over it. Sort of like an oyster chowder shooter. Amazing.

That’s just one of 70 some culinary events going on this weekend  . . . and that doesn’t include the car show at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills or Mike Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Nags Head tomorrow.

Next year look for the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach to be March 12-15, although that hasn’t been confirmed yet.