October 28, 2013
Pirates and visitors swarm Ocracoke for first
annual Blackbeard Jamboree…WITH SLIDE SHOW
By CONNIE LEINBACH
re-enactors call what they did over the weekend at the First Annual
Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree on Ocracoke “time tripping.”
is as authentic as you can get,” explained Bill Burgess, one of the
Devilmen of Cape Feare, after the “Battle of Ocracoke” in Silver Lake
with three period boats and lots of gunpowder making loud reports.
and dozens of other pirate re-enactors take special pride in having
their costumes and experience authentic to the period of the
1700s. That means having the same fabrics for clothing and shoes,
buttons, tents and even period food, which was prepared over an open
fire in a large black cauldron in the yard of 161 Irvin Garrish Highway
where Blackbeard’s Crew, a living history re-enactment group had camped
for the weekend. The Devilmen had made camp on the harbor side of
Burgess is a retired deputy sheriff and history
buff who does other re-enactments, such as the two World Wars, the
Vietnam War and the British Army Zulu War of 1879. The nirvana
for re-enactors is the feeling when everything comes together of
actually being in the past.
“If you can feel, even for one
moment, that you’re actually there, it’s called ‘seeing the elephant,’”
he said. “I’ve seen it twice.”
Once, he said, was during a World
War I nighttime trench warfare battle at Newville, Pa., as bullets
strafed the night sky. The other was during a Civil War
re-enactment with the 120th unit in Franklin, Tenn.
“It hits you like a truck,” Burgess said of the feeling of truly being back in time.
Mostly, re-enactors have a passion for history and the times, added Madame Grace of Blackbeard’s Crew.
“Our whole effort is to ignite peoples’ imaginations,” she said.
Collamore, or “Dutch,” as he is called in the crew, conducts 18th
navigation demonstrations with period tools to the North Carolina and
Virginia standards of learning for math and geometry for fourth and
“I love to see the light go on as to how we use a
compass to navigate a course,” he said about his demonstrations.
“It’s great to see the kids connect math to something real like this.”
Saturday morning, the jamboree began with pirates on period ships shooting at pirates on the land.
gonna get you, Blackbeard,” yelled one from the dock at the Devilmen
encampment as he shot his pistol to no avail at a taunting Blackbeard,
played by Todd Willis.
“What? Is your powder wet?” Willis with
arms outstretched yelled from aboard the Meka II, which was outfitted
as Blackbeard’s boat The Adventure. “I hear (the bullets)
At 3 p.m., the main re-enactment battle between
Blackbeard and Lt. Robert Maynard amid more cannon fire and narrated by
author-historian Kevin Duffus culminated in a swordfight aboard The
Adventure. Maynard hoisted Blackbeard’s head for all on land to
“The battle was brilliant,” noted Ryan Papa, a friend and
roadie for Blackbeard’s Crew. “My favorite part was when they cut off
his head. It was better than the battle at the Hampton Pirate Festival.”
event concluded Sunday with the march to Springer’s Point by the
pirates to commemorate the fallen Blackbeard and his crew. About 50
festival-goers joined the dozen pirates who mustered at Blackbeard’s
Lodge on Back Road and walked along Lighthouse Road to the soundside
After a recitation by Duffus of the events that occurred
there Nov. 21, 1718, Willoughby Caught, chantey master for Blackbeard’s
Crew, sang two original songs about the pirate. Hatchet Meg tossed the
commemorative wreath that she had made into the water. A report from
The Adventure off shore concluded the service.
“This was a lot
of fun,” said Chris McLean of Yardley, Pa., who came to Ocracoke for
the week with his family especially for the event. “We went to the
scallywag school and learned to hold a sword.”
accompaniment throughout the weekend was provided by the six-member
Motley Tones from Raleigh, singing sea chanteys, drinking songs, and
bawdy songs especially for adults Saturday evening outside of Natural
Selections in the Bawdy Beer Garden.
“This was my most favorite
festival all year,” said Cindy Clark, one of the Tones, who has been to
at least a dozen pirate festivals this year. “Everyone was so friendly
and the crowds were very engaging.”
Business owners noted at increase of traffic in their stores.
“Business was up,” noted Mickey Baker owner of the Mermaid’s Folly. “It was a beautiful day and a lot of fun.”
“The festival brought more people here than I thought it would,” noted Rich Corbin, who works at Ride the Wind Surf Shop.
“It was cool,” added Bob Chestnut, Surf Shop owner. “We watched the boat battle from upstairs.”
Trudy Austin, a cashier at the Ocracoke Variety Store, said she heard a lot of positive feedback from the community.
Bennink, who spearheaded the event three years ago, was pleased that
the weather was good for the first time in three years, allowing the
festival to happen.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better first
Jamboree,” she said. “The weather was beautiful, the attendance was
great and the participation on all levels exceeded our expectations. We
are so proud of what we accomplished.”
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