Municipal license plates are no longer being issued by Grifton (or most other towns), but the Shad Festival lives on. This year’s will be April 20-22 (and will of course include the traditional Shad Toss).
Since 1971 the town has been celebrating the annual return of shad upstream from the Atlantic Ocean to Contentnea Creek, a tributary of the Neuse River.
But the festival idea, proposed by Cooperative Extension Agent Ed Comer, didn’t meet instant acceptance. Many anglers disdain the predominant local variety, the hickory shad, which is smaller and bonier than the American shad. (Both are in the herring family.)
Mayor Dave Bosley saved the day for the hickory shad: “We don’t have to eat the shad; they don’t eat azaleas at the Azalea Festival or mules at Mule Day in Benson.”