The real Blackbeard will be revealed but the popular myth will be on full display at the First Annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree on Ocracoke on Friday through Sunday, Oct. 25 to 27.
Three years in the making, the village-wide jamboree will celebrate the last days of Blackbeard with historically authentic encampments and ship battles by four professional re-enactment pirate crews.
“We are really excited about how this bigger-and-better event is shaping up, including an overwhelming response from the pirate community,” noted Daphne Bennink, owner of The Back Porch, who spearheaded the event. “Not only will this be an amazing educational entertainment for visitors, but it also will give a boost to the local economy.”
Various pirate re-enactors are gearing up to travel to Ocracoke because of the historical significance here for Blackbeard.
“The pirates are excited about coming here because this is the only place with authenticated Blackbeard history,” noted Chip Stevens, owner of Blackbeard’s Lodge and one of the event organizers.
In fact, event-goers will be first to hear some new information about the nefarious pirate. Historian-author Kevin Duffus of Raleigh, who has spent years researching the real Blackbeard, has some new information he will share during the weekend.
“Blackbeard’s history has been badly distorted,” explained the author of “The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate.” In his Saturday afternoon talk, “Myths vs. Facts: What’s Really True about Blackbeard,” at the Live Oak Stage at Books to be Red on School Road, Duffus will reveal new discoveries about “the identity of Blackbeard and where he came from. It will shift how Blackbeard’s story is told.”
Duffus, who speaks all over about his research, said that Williamsburg, Va., has accepted his new findings and will change their official information. Moreover, Duffus said he will reveal “the true nature of Blackbeard’s treasure and where it is.”
One of the Friday night kick-off events is a “Mock-Court of Vice Admiralty, to Hear an Indictment Against the History of Blackbeard, the Notorious Pyrate,” conducted by Duffus and Captain Horatio Sinbad, captain of the Meka II, in the Ocracoke Community Center at 7 p.m.
The “trial” will weigh evidence as to the identities and fates of those pirates who escaped with Blackbeard aboard the sloop Adventure after wrecking the Queen Anne’s Revenge in Beaufort Inlet. Refreshments will be available along with pirate songs by the Motley Tones.
Prior to that, the Ocracoke School PTA Halloween Carnival will be in full swing in the Ocracoke School from 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. with carnival games (starting at 5 p.m.), a Cake Walk and Quizo, Ocracoke’s version of Bingo. An annual fundraiser for the school, this costume event is a natural fit for the jamboree, and visiting pirates will be encouraged to attend.
Blackbeard’s Pirate Crew, a 12-member living history organization from Hampton, Va., will camp Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of the historic Wahab House, 161 Irvin Garrish Highway, while the Devilmen of Cape Feare will be docked on the longboat Florie.
Outfitted in historical costumes from the 17th and early 18th centuries, pirates will engage the audience with storytelling, sea chanteys, sword play, and demonstrations of vintage black powder weapons.
The premier event will be an authentic ship-to-ship battle Saturday afternoon at 3 in Silver Lake harbor as Blackbeard’s crew meets up with Lt. Robert Maynard in “The Battle at Ocracoke.”
Captain Horatio Sinbad on the brigantine Meka II and the Ada Mae, a skipjack out of New Bern, will re-create the last hours of Blackbeard and his crew with cannons blazing.
“They’re bringing a lot of gun powder and shooting it off at the end of the season,” Stevens said. “There will be lots of explosions.”
Following that will be bawdy songs in the “Bawdy Beer Garden” on the Books to be Red grounds along School Road until 7 p.m.
Among the many activities on Saturday include “Blackbeard’s Market” of local vendors in Community Square, a treasure hunt through Ocracoke businesses, sing-alongs, sword fight demonstrations and more. There will be a pirate movie for kids in Deepwater Theater and crafts for “Little Pirates” at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum.
The weekend will culminate with a memorial service Sunday morning for those killed in Blackbeard’s last battle. Pirates will gather at 10 a.m. at Blackbeard’s Lodge, 111 Back Road, and then walk along Lighthouse Road to Springer’s Point Nature Preserve.
As Meka II and Ada Mae stand offshore, a eulogy will be read and a wreath laid, followed by a broadside salute.
Since the jamboree is an unofficial close of the pirate season, re-enactors and aficionados can walk around and have fun, Stevens said. Locals and visitors alike are encouraged to join in the fun and don pirate attire.
This is the first year of this jamboree – it was canceled in 2011 and 2012 because of hurricanes Irene and Sandy — building up to a grand event in 2018–the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death. Organizers want the yearly dates for the event to be the last week in October since it is close to the actual Nov. 21 date of Blackbeard’s fateful date at Ocracoke.
Parking for the event is available at the National Park Service parking lot, 4352 Irvin Garrish Highway.
Click here for a complete schedule.
Schedules and more information are also posted on the website www.piratejamboree.com and the Facebook page: Ocracoke/Hatteras Pirate Jamboree.