Sound Rivers Announces Cancellation of 2020 Oyster Roast

Sound Rivers

Posted on September 15th, 2020

For Immediate Release
Contact: Corinne Everett Belch

Sound Rivers Announces Cancellation of 35th Annual Oyster Roast, Cites COVID-19

September 14, 2020 (Washington, NC) – Sound Rivers is announcing the cancellation of their 35th Annual Oyster Roast, previously scheduled for November 2020. The event, which is a fundraiser for the organization and provides financial support for the programs of the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper, has been ringing in oyster season for almost four decades. Sound Rivers’ staff cited COVID-19 as the reason behind the decision.

Sound Rivers’ Executive Director, Heather Deck, said of the cancellation, “This was a really hard decision to come to – we knew it was what needed to be done to protect the health and safety of our volunteers, staff, and attendees, but it was still emotional for all of us. This event is critical to our funding, but it’s more than that –the Oyster Roast has always been a wonderful way to bring together our Clean Water Community and celebrate the amazing work we are working together to achieve. Many volunteers and attendees have been coming every year for 35 years.”

“This would have been my second Oyster Roast, and while I’m new to the area and the event, I could tell it was incredibly special from my time working with volunteers last year. The cancellation is really disappointing, but it’s our responsibility to ensure those who work for and attend the event are safe. In light of the continuing threats from COVID-19, and the current restrictions on large gatherings in North Carolina, it was impossible for us to continue the event this year,” said Jill Howell, Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper, who joined the organization in 2019.

Sound Rivers, formerly the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, works to protect and preserve the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse River basins, which together cover nearly one quarter of North Carolina. Their work includes advocacy for, education about, and increasing access to the rivers, creeks, and lakes of our region.Their annual Oyster Roast event funds over 60% of the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper programs. In place of the 2020 event they have various virtual events planned, such as an online auction from November 9, 2020 to December 1, 2020, and the Tour de Tar, where Howell and Environmental Programs Coordinator Clay Barber will paddle the length of the Tar River from October 8, 2020 through October 17, 2020. Through these events and other fundraising, Deck says Sound Rivers needs to raise $125,000 by December 31st.

Deck said, “While the event is on pause this year, the Oyster Roast will be back, bigger and better than ever, in 2021, with the support of the local community. Many Oyster Roast sponsors have continued to support us this year – because they know that this event is critical to fund our mission and without it we are facing a significant funding shortfall. We are working hard daily for the waterways and the people of Eastern North Carolina, and so right now our focus is making sure we can continue that work. But we love the Oyster Roast just as much as our attendees, and we’re going to use this time to make the event an even more wonderful experience in 2021. We hope to see everyone there!”

“In the meantime, we hope the public will consider making a year-end gift to keep Sound Rivers’ three Riverkeepers on the water, working for you.”

You can learn more about Sound Rivers’ mission and their other events, including a virtual science series every second Tuesday of each month, at

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