BELVILLE — “Arrgg” you ready to experience the Golden Age of pirates, right here in the Cape Fear? If so, the Wilmington Harbor Enhancement Trust (WHET) has a treat for you, as the third annual Feast of the Pirates looks to set sail Saturday.
The Feast of the Pirates will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Brunswick Riverwalk Park, located just across the Cape Fear River from Wilmington, off of NC 133.
The Feast traces its roots back to the late 1920s, when organizers in the Port City would host a three day festival, to not only celebrate the regions rich pirate history, but also “fun, frolic, and friendship.”
While the scale might not be quite as large these days, according to WHET President Stephanie Fornes, this year’s event will be more “piratey” than ever.
“It’s going to be a really fun event,” she said. “We have period actors coming in from Raleigh, who will be putting on professional sword acts, and a cannon crew out of Beaufort, who will be giving black powder cannon demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday.”
Raleigh based Shadow Play Stage Combat group will be providing entertainment in the form of sword fights and comedy skits, and the Cannon Crew from Beaufort will be educating and entertaining festival goers with live cannon firings at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m.
In addition, the crew of the “Scarlett Dragon,” a Brunswick County based “fantasy” pirate crew will be in attendance, providing photo opportunities and pirate education as the day goes on.
Participants are encouraged to dress in their favorite pirate garb, from bandannas and eye patches, to full pirate regalia.
“It’s a great family fun event, and we’ve got a bunch of local vendors,” she said.
Vendors include Artsy Mood Swings, Coastal Tides Soaps & Candles, Jack’s Treasures and Pirates Treasure House, in addition to food and beverage options. There will also be a variety of kids games and activities, including “pick up the duck,” and other pirate themed games.
“What’s great, is it’s totally free!” Fornes said. “Except for what you purchase (from vendors) of course.”
The Wilmington Harbor Enhancement Trust is a non-profit group dedicated “promoting orderly development of property and recreational activities along the Wilmington riverfront on the Cape Fear River.”
One of the groups main objectives is the continual visit of tall ships, like the Niña and Pinta earlier this year, which they say brings an economic boost to the area, in addition to providing fun, educational activities.
Earlier this week, WHET held a “Queen Anne’s Revenge Fundraiser Parrrty,” at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in downtown Wilmington, ahead of this weekends festivities.
“All the fundraising we do, it goes back into getting more tall ships into the area,” Fornes said. “We did make a profit at the party, and every little bit helps.”
According to Fornes, an average visit costs approximately $60,000 per visit.
This year, the group hopes to pull some of the competitors from the Tall Ship Challenge, an annual race and showcase of some of the world’s premier vessels.
This year’s tall ship challenge will be along the Gulf Coast, and on their way home, many will be coming this way,” she said. “We want to snag a couple on the way by, and maybe host them in both Southport, and Wilmington.”
For more information on WHET’s ongoing efforts, visit wilmingtondocks.com