by Lorraine Payette, written on July 17, 2013
(GANANOQUE, ONTARIO) ‘Twas a fair wind that blew the tall ship into port at the Joel Stone Heritage Park on July 11, ushering in Gananoque’s third annual Pirate Fest. All the usual crew came ashore – from Captain Jack Sparrow to Capt’n Tor and his Naer-Do-Well-Cads – and a few new ones came to join them, including Mermaid Michelle and pirates of every imaginable size and shape.
“This is a popular event,” said Kathy MacRae of the Gananoque Boat Line and major sponsor of Pirate Fest. “I’m happy to say we had more participants than last year.”
Starting with two great pirate films – “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” and “Pirates of the Caribbean I”, crowds were spellbound by the entertainment provided. The entire town was invited to participate, from storefront displays to costumed restaurateurs, and all kinds of fun loving people joining in for the parade down King Street East to the Park.
On one corner, Captain Hook took the time to tell a group of spellbound young pirates exactly how he lost his hand. On another, swashbuckling at its best was performed with foam rubber swords as everyone waited for the chance to meet Captain Jack.
In the Town Park, an extra diversion was made available for the first time. The BIA brought in a small midway, allowing a change in entertainment for those who sought variety, and everywhere were shouts of joy and happiness.
Ronnie Rodriguez, a Johnny Depp look-alike brought in from California, played Captain Jack, emceeing the films and making himself available for photos with fans. Babe Kelly helped with the wench auction, making sure that charity was well served. And excellent music was provided by bands like Poor Angus and Keltic Kitchen Party.
Yet with all this there was still more. A pirate cruise, tallest tale contest, assorted pirate bands, bellyflop contest, best pirate costume contest, kids zone, pirate puppet show, dinner with Captain Jack, vendors and artisans – the event covered everything pirate.
“It’s the coolest,” said Ben Hamilton, 8. “I want to stay here all the time.”
“We looked forward to it,” said Sarah Thompson from Virginia. “We were here in Gananoque a year ago when it ran, and it was great. I hope to come back again next year.”
Pirate Fest is growing fast and has the potential to be a major event on Gananoque’s annual calendar. For more on the festival and how to participate in future, contact TIAP or the Gananoque Boat Line though http://www.1000islandstourism.com/ .