‘Peer Fishin’ Festival’ returns to Ocean Crest Pier, raising the spirits of disabled veterans

OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — After being cancelled for the past two years due to a hurricane and the pandemic, the Operation North State annual ‘Peer Fishin’ Festival’ is back at the Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island.

The event is held each fall for wounded and disabled veterans, with many of the participants saying they look forward to the event each year.

“It makes you feel real comfortable,” veteran William Penn said. “It’s like the stress is down, deescalate the situation.”

In addition to the fun, Penn says the festival continues to impact his life.

“It’s given me a sense of being again,” Penn said.

Fellow fisherman Curtis Shannon has been to every festival so far, and attempts to invite a few extra veterans each time.

“Lot of them come back from war, or wherever they’ve been at, they don’t do anything,” Shannon said. “I bring them out here to give them something else to do, give them some feeling again.”

Shannon points out many of the veterans are suffering in silence, and the festival is a way to forget about their problems for awhile.

“War is hard on us, and we lose feeling,” Shannon said. “Fishing is a way to give them back some feeling.”

Down the pier, Jim Kiger is another long-time attendee, who says the festival gives back in major ways to all who take part.

“Taking about family and good times,” Kiger said. “It is, without a shadow of a doubt, unbelievably therapeutic for all of us.”

Organizers say they’re expecting a total of 450-500 veterans to cast a line in the festival this week.

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