One of the Oldest and Longest Running Festivals in all of NC!

Welcome to the home of the Grifton Shad Festival

We are now entering our 51st year.

The Grifton Shad Festival is one of the most time-honored and longest running festivals in all of North Carolina. Come out and enjoy several days of Down East Hospitality. Most events are held on the weekend.

FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE – Signs will mark the way. You can use the free shuttle to and from the air activities.


Grifton, N.C.


Thursday to Sunday
April 13 to 16, 2023

Counting Down

Get ready for our 51st anniversary!

Festival Schedule

This Schedule of Events will update as activities are confirmed. Check back on a regular basis for updates.
Last updated: 3/21/2022

***Fireworks April 15th at 9pm. It is best to safely secure pets indoors with a TV or radio on to soften loud noises***

Signs will mark the way. You can use the free shuttle to and from activities. Additional parking will be available on Main Street.

January 2023

Jan. 1st Shad Fishing Contest begins

February 2023

Feb. 18th Fish Stew Cook-off, 11 a.m. at Depot

March 2023

Mar. 20-24, Coloring Contest

April 2023

April 1st Miss Grifton Shad Queen Pageant, Grifton School Auditorium, 7pm

April 11th FishyTales Story Telling Contest Grifton School Media Center. 6pm

April 13-15th Fun Time Amusement & Rides
Thursday, 13th, 5pm- 9pm, Wrist Bands $15
Friday. 14th, 5pm- 10pm Wrist Bands $20
Saturday, 15th, 10am – 10pm, Tickets Only

April 14- 16th, Shad Shack – T-shirts & Novelty
Items For Sale
Thursday, 13th5pm. – 8pm
Friday, 14th 5pm – 8pm
Saturday, 15th 9am- 8pm

April 13- 15th Mo’s Pub & Entertainment
Thursday, 13th 8pm – 10:30pm Local’s Night
featuring Lonnie Britton
Friday, 14th 4pm – 11:30pm
Saturday, 15th 1pm – 11:30pm

April 14-15th Market Place & Craft Vendors – Lawn at First Citizens Bank

April 14- 15th Food Vendor – Queen Street and Town Commons

April 14th Shad-O (bingo) School Cafeteria, 7pm – 9pm, Great Prizes!

April 14th Musical Entertainment, Grifton Train Depot
6:30pm- 8:30pm Don Cox Band
9pm -11pm Bad Addiction Band

April 15th

10am Parade Reviewing Stand Opening Remarks, Mayor Pro Tem, Claude Kennedy; Commentary by John Moore. MC Introduction ofGrand Marshal

10:30am Grifton ShadFestival Parade

11:45am Presentation of Parade Trophies by John Moore, Master of Ceremonies
Presentation of Fishing Trophies by Randall Hart, President, Grifton Shad Festival

10am – 4:30pm Helicopter Rides by Total Flight Solution at River Road/Horse Stables

10am – 3pm Petting Zoo and Pony Rides by Briley Farms, Queen Street

10am- 5pm Antique Tractor Show by Gerald Cuttington. Queen Street

12 Noon. Musical Entertainment presented by Joseph Scott, Parade Reviewing Stand

12 Noon, Grifton Shad Festival Fish Stew presented by Lion’s Club. Town Commons

12 Noon- 6pm Sky High Entertainment, Queen Street. Stilt walking by Sky, Juggling & Bubble Entertainment. LED Robot Stilt Walking, Fire Juggling Show

12 Noon. 20m & 40m Protown BMX Stunt Team West Queen Street

12:30pm – 1:30pm. – Dinosaur Meet and Greet by Ed’s Dinosaurs Live, McCrae Street

1:300m & 3:30pm – Circus Stella, Town Commons. Circus Acts and Rescued Dogs

2pm- 5pm Shad Toss, between bank and depot

2pm- 5pm Dunking Booth, Queen Street

2pm – 6pm Gospel Music by Anthony Gonzales

Throughout the Day – Captain Jim Is Magic, Queen Street, High Energy Magic and Sword Swallowing

April 15th Entertainment
Grifton Depot and Queen Street
1pm – 2pm Authentic Mexican Dance Team
2pm – 3:45pm Open Mic
4pm – 5:30pm Morgan & Company
6:30pm – 8:30pm Donald Thompson Band
8:45 pm – Drawing for Raffles
9 pm. – Fire Works!!***
9:10pm -11:00pm Coastline Ban

April 15th and 16th

Grifton Shad Festival Art Show, Shad Shack
Building, 6851 Pitt St., Downtown Grifton.
April 15th Noon- 50m
April 16th 1pm – 4pm

Festival News

March 29, 2022
2022 Shad Festival Coloring Contest Winners

2022 Shad Festival Coloring Contest Winners! Kneeling is (left to right) J’Leon Outlaw, Kindergarten; Jaliyah Dixon, Kindergarten; Isabel Lopez, 1st Grade, Sagira Ward, 1st Grade, Caedynce Grant, 2nd Grade; Emily Lopez, 2nd Grade, Back row standing is Principal Megan Newman, Catie Weir, Pre-K; Kayla Contreras-Ovando, 2nd Grade; Alyssa Wyenandt, 3rd Grade; Da’juan Stevenson, 3rd Grade, …

March 15, 2022
Brigadier General Debra A. Lovette named Grand Marshall of 2022 Grifton Shad Festival Parade

The Grifton Shad Festival is pleased to announce that Brigadier General Debra A. Lovette will be the Grand Marshal of the 2022 Grifton Shad Festival Parade. Brig. Gen. Lovette was born and reared in Lenoir County, just 10 miles outside of Grifton. She attended Contentnea Elementary School and graduated valedictorian in 1990 from North Lenoir …

December 18, 2021
A Fish Worth Fighting For

In the creeks and rivers of the Coastal Plain, shad are harbingers of spring. For the folks in one tiny town, their annual Shad Festival also heralds a renewed spirit of Jeremy Markovich PHOTOGRAPH BY GEOFF WOOD By the time Hurricane Matthew hit, the shad were long gone, back out to sea. But the water they …

December 18, 2021
Grifton gears up for Shad Festival: Fun events next weekend raise funds

So many activities are taking place this weekend to raise money for the 50th anniversary Grifton Shad Festival that the day will take on the feel of Shad Festival — without the shad. The festival planning committee is ramping up for the April 2022 event with a list of activities that includes a motorcycle poker …

January 3, 2020
The 50th Annual Grifton Shad Festival

Kick start your spring season with this four day fun-filled event for the whole family. Complete with amusement park rides, contests, pageants, raffles, and even a parade, the 50th Annual Grifton Shad Festival is one you won’t want to miss. The Grifton Shad Festival is one of the most time-honored and longest running festivals in all of North Carolina. …

January 4, 2019
Big time in a small town: Grifton’s Shad Festival is April 11-14, 2019

From April 11-14, folks in Eastern North Carolina are invited to sample what this month’s Our State magazine  called “one of the oldest festivals in North Carolina.” Grifton, at the southernmost point of Pitt County on the banks of the Contentnea Creek, will host its 49th annual Shad Festival.    The three-day event began  as …

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