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Reidsville resident Doug Isley was already a fan of the Carolinas coastline when he snagged top prize in this year’s first Brunswick Catch Seafood Discovery Sweepstakes.
The contest, promoted last spring with co-sponsor Our State Magazine, invited readers and attendees at assorted festivals throughout North Carolina to submit entries for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid weekend visit to Brunswick County.
The gist of the $850-prize-package sweepstakes, said Brunswick Catch chairwoman Jackie Varnam, was to highlight and showcase Brunswick Catch seafood and all the other local offerings Brunswick County has to offer visitors and residents alike.
An appreciative Isley drove through four hours in a driving rain with his brother-in-law, Robert McDaniel, to arrive in Brunswick County this past Friday night.
They checked into the Sunset Inn in Sunset Beach for their first night’s stay and were treated to dinner at Boone Docks in Holden Beach, where Isley ordered the stuffed flounder.
The food was so good, Isley said it made him exclaim, “Slap my mama and call her happy!”
He was speaking Saturday at the third annual Wooden Boat Show in Southport, another sweepstakes offering where he was greeted by Brunswick Catch members at their booth, including former county commissioner May Moore and her shrimper husband, Jimmy of Oak Island. They bestowed Isley with his own bright orange Brunswick Catch T-shirt.
That probably made Isley’s mama happy, too.
“You can put me anywhere in North Carolina and I’ll be happy,” Isley said. “But I love the coastline.”
During Saturday’s Wooden Boat Show, Isley and his brother-in-law were treated to a cruise across the Southport Channel aboard the Solomon T, Capt. Bert Felton’s restored 1938 native workboat that’s on the North Carolina Register of Historic Vessels.
They planned to dine “local” again Saturday (at Fishy Fishy Café and Bella Cucina in Southport), and stay at The Winds Resort Beach Club in Ocean Isle Beach, another contest participant.
They would be leaving on Sunday morning, when Isley’s parting gift would be a cooler full of fresh seafood bestowed by Varnam from her and her husband Nicky’s market, Garland’s in Varnamtown.
Other participating Brunswick Catch businesses, which promote buying and eating locally-caught seafood, were Captain Pete’s Seafood Market and Old Ferry Seafood in Holden Beach, Clem’s Seafood on Long Beach Road, Haag and Sons of Oak Island and Beacon One Seafood of Varnamtown.
Not only that, in addition to being treated to Brunswick’s great seafood, Isley would be getting cookbooks, the aforementioned T-shirts and other parting gifts to take back home to Reidsville, Varnam said.
It’s doubtful Brunswick Catch could have snagged a more appreciative sweepstakes winner.
Isley is a native North Carolinian whose grandfather was a tobacco farmer.
“That’s how he fed 11 kids,” said Isley, who loves his native state’s heritage and its old-style way of life.
Isley is a beekeeper and also helps his aforementioned mama make muscadine-grape jelly. When the 2012 State Fair rolls around for another year Oct. 11-21, Isley and his mama are traveling to Raleigh to enter and exhibit their jelly in one of the bookoodles of state fair agricultural competitions.
If things go like they did when he entered the Brunswick Catch Seafood Discovery Sweepstakes on two separate occasions, Isley just might win.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.