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

NC Wildlife Resources Boat Landing & Overlook Park
Any time. Enjoy fishing or boating (bring your own kayak, canoe, or boat) or enjoy the creek from the picnic shelter or walking trail. One block from Grifton Civic Center Museum.

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

Jan. 19th Miss Grifton Pageant orientation meeting, 7 p.m., at Depot

Jan. 25th Webex orientation meeting – Text Samantha Nichols at 252-916-7445 or Kaylynn Barnes at 252-671-1973 for logon information

February 2023

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

Feb. 18th Art Show 12 Noon – 5 p.m.  at Shad Shack – Come view and enjoy pieces of art by local artists.

Feb. 20th Coloring Contest at Grifton School begins

March 2023

Mar. 30th Coloring Contest Winners Announced

April 2023

April 1st Miss Grifton Shad Queen Pageant, Grifton School Auditorium, 7 p.m.

April 26th Fishy Tales Story Telling Contest Grifton School Media Center, 6 p.m.

April 28 – 30 Fun Time Amusement & Rides

Thursday, 28th, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Wrist Bands $15

Friday, 29th, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Wrist Bands $20

Saturday, 30th, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Tickets Only

April 29 – May 1 Shad Shack – t-shirts & novelty items for sale

Friday, 29th 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday, 30th 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday, May 1st, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

April 29-30 Mo’s Pub & Entertainment

Friday, 29th 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday, 30th 1 p.m. – 11 p.m.

April 29-30 Market Place & Craft Vendors – all day, Lawn at First Citizens Bank

April 29-30 Food Vendors – all day Queen Street and Town Commons

April 29th Shad-O (bingo) School Cafeteria,    7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Great Prizes!

April 29th Musical Entertainment Grifton Train Depot

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Silver Wings Band
9 p.m. – 11 p.m. Jonathan Parker Band

April 30th at Parade Reviewing Stand

10:00 a.m. a.m. Opening Remarks and Introduction of Grand Marshal, Brigadier
General Debra A. Lovette by Commissioner Claude Kennedy and words from the Brigadier General

10:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. Petting Zoo and Pony Rides by Briley Farms. Queen Street
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Antique Tractor Show, corner of Queen and Gordon Streets.
10:15 a.m. Carolina Girls Dancers, reviewing stand

10:30 a.m. Grifton Shad Festival Parade – watch for some of your favorite Disney characters

11:45 a.m. Presentation of parade & fishing contest trophies by Commissioner Kennedy, reviewing stand

12 Noon – 12:15 p.m. Shimmy Shakers Dancers, reviewing stand

12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Carolina Heat Martial Arts Demonstration, corner of Queen & Pitt Streets

April 30th Circus Stella, Town Commons,
Shows at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

April 30th, Entertainment at Grifton Depot
1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Jakara University for Martial Arts Demonstration
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Traditional Mexican Dancers
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Open Mic – come join us!
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Music by Tyra Sparrow, Mason Head, and Lonnie Britton.

April 30th, SHAD TOSS. 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Between bank and Depot

April 30th, Sky High Entertainment 12 Noon – 6:00 p.m., Queen Street, Stilt walking by Sky, Juggling & Bubble Entertainment, LED Robot Stilt Walking, Fire Juggling Show.

April 30th, Captain Jim is Magic! Several shows throughout the day and evening on Queen Street. Sword balancing followed by a high energy Magic Show for all ages!

April 30th, Dunking Booth. 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Queen Street.

April 30th Protown BMX Exhibitions, Shows from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

April 30th, Helicopter Rides by Total Flight Solution.
April 30th, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., at River Road/Horse Stables

April 30th Gospel Music by Anthony Gonzales
2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mattie’s Mini Park

April 30th Musical Entertainment
Grifton Depot and Queen Street

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Donald Thompson Band
8:45 p.m. – Drawing for Raffles (multiple prizes)
9:00 p.m. – Fire Works!!
9:10 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Band of Oz!!

April 30th – May 1st Grifton Shad Festival Art Show, New Location, Shad Shack Building, 6851 Pitt St., Downtown Grifton.

April 30th, Noon – 5:00 p.m.

May 1st, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

April 30th – May 1st, Grifton Civic Center
12 Noon – 5:00 p.m. Historical Museum

May 1st, Community Church Service
9:00 a.m., Creekside Overlook Park (by town landing) Bring a chair & enjoy the fellowship & the view.

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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