10th annual Beach Pirate Festival this weekend
Ye annual Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival is jest around ye carrrrrrrner, sweeping ye shores of Bay Walk on Fort myers Beach today through Sunday, Oct. 9 to 11. All swashbucklers, scallywags, privateers, wenches, lil pirates in trainin’ – and even land-lubbers – are welcome to join in the all-weekend festivities focused all around pirate lore and adventure on the high seas.
“This year is going to be the biggest festival to date,” said Belinda Hadcock, lead coordinator of the pirate festival, who has been a part of the festivities since Day 1. “We have expanded, now also using the stage down at Times Square for the evening, which will feature performances by West of Galway. Our vendor area and festival will be between 1st and 3rd streets, down to the fountain.”
The festival will kick off in all its glory Friday evening with the legendary Pub Quest. All are welcome to come along, either to join a team or cheer them on.
“The Pub Quest is lots of fun. It features three teams, each with a captain, each team following their captain to local bars, pubs and restaurants, taking advantage of their special offers. There will be lots of trickery and bribery, and anything can happen along the way, as the captain with the most followers at the end of the night wins a special prize. They’re pirates, after all,” Hadcock said, and laughed. “Our reigning champion is Claus, and he’ll try to defend his crown this year. It’s a lot of fun.”
To participate in the Pub Quest, meet up at the Bay Walk fountain at 6 p.m. It’ll later end in Times Square, with West of Galway on the stage, and awards ceremony at 8:30.
The official Pirate Festival will open the next morning, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, offering continuous entertainment from two stages, with the main stage by the fountain/bay, and Crow’s Nest stage adjacent to SOB’s (Old San Carlos Boulevard and 3rd Street).
“Along with several wonderful things for the adults to enjoy, we’ll have plenty for the children, as well,” Belinda said. “The Waterball Lagoon keeps them cool, a kid’s costume contest at the Crow’s Nest stage nearby will take place at 12:30 each afternoon, Black Beard’s Kid’s Shows at 11:10 and 3:40 each day – and we’ll have a very special treat – local author, Wilton Hawthorne, (of Cape Coral) will be offering storytelling from the stage at 11:50 a.m. He’s just mesmerizing and the children love him.”
Roving pirates, magicians, stiltsmen and musicians will be strolling the boulevard – so many things going on along the avenue – and for those of you land-lubbers who haven’t yet dressed the parrrrrrt (or for ye pirates who need that extra special touch farrr yer garb), a vast aisle of fine craftsmen, artisans and merchants, offering their goods, wares and services, will line Vendors Row and Thieves Market.
“Merchants offering their crafts and wares – we have such a spectacular Vendor’s Row and Thieves Market, with anything imaginable for a buccaneer to need – handcrafted leather goods, costuming, gorgeous custom hats from award-winning craftsmen, organic artwork, jewels and gems, corsets and gowns, hand-forged metalwork, oysters filled with pearls, jewelers, ship bow sculptors, moon pendants, several unique one-of-a-kind items no pirate other than you will have,” Hadcock said.
The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce’s exposition section will also feature local businesses exhibiting their fine services, lining 1st Street, in front of Nervous Nellie’s.
As for live music, the well-known and mind-blowing Medieval Celtic group known as The Craic is returning, dazzling the crowd with phenomenal sounds and stories. Also look forward to performances by Arrrrr Inc. Musical Group, the shanty-singin’ Rusty Anchors who are hailing from Daytona Beach, several comedy shows and much more.
And, one of the largest draws of the annual pirate fest – the Piece de Resistance, is the epic Clash in the Pass sea battle, raging in the back bay at 1:30 each afternoon. Belinda explains the scenario. “The Black Duck, Black Pearl and the Pieces of Eight pirate ships are all attacking the land, and our pirate army will be defending the port with our cannons, rifles and pistols (live black powder demonstration). It’s a big sea battle and one of the main attractions of the festival.”
You see, Hadcock is also known as Wrong Way Rachael McBride. She, along with her husband, Capt. Robert Flood, and their vast pirate army are talented warrior swashbucklers, sure to keep our port safe, yet again. “Our pipers lead us into battle from the shore, featuring Brandon the Piper, who’s performed with the festival since he was a wee one. an incredibly talented young man.”
The Craic is sure to lead the ship’s troops from the sea, yet again, as well, as last year they drummed aboard the Black Duck.
Saturday night, the adult costume contest will hit the stage at 8 p.m. in Times Square – all pirates are welcome – and you just never know what – or who – you might see. There’s no cost to enter the contest, and prizes will be awarded for best dressed buccaneer, best wench and best couple.
This weekend’s pirate festival will be a fully gated/enclosed event, and a $5 suggested donation is asked for those attending for the day, no suggested donation for children 12 and under. Weekend passes are available for a $20 donation, which allows access to the festival both days, and also comes with a leather pirate fest souvenir and special scroll featuring discounts to several restaurants and bars around the island.
“Anyone nervous about construction on the beach – don’t worry, because they stop at 2 p.m. Friday – and there’s no construction over the weekend to interfere with the festival, so come one, come all!” Belinda said.
The annual Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival was ranked in 2014 as the No. 2 Pirate Festival in the Nation by USA Today Travel.
For more information, detailed schedule of festival events, merchants and more, pick up a copy of the Fort Myers Bach Observer/Beach Bulletin for the special Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival section or visit FMBPirateFest.com.