EASTPORT, Maine — More than 10,000 visitors are expected Down East this weekend for the fifth annual Eastport Pirate Festival, a celebration of the area’s pirate history and the official end of summer.
“The Eastport Pirate Festival has quickly grown into the largest pirate-themed event in northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes,” festival founder and Eastport city Councilor John Miller said Wednesday. “Last year, an estimated 8,000 pirates from the USA, Canada and beyond participated in this fun-filled family event. That number is expected to swell with the great weather forecast and the addition of the first International Lobster Boat Race.”
To help promote the festival, organizers last weekend conducted a pirate invasion of the town of Lubec, which lies across Johnson Bay from Eastport. The actual festival kicks into high gear on Friday, Sept. 10, on the city’s waterfront and continues for three days.
Miller said most of the events are free or affordable.
“The backdrop for the festivities is the beautiful island city of Eastport,” he added.
Events include a Pirates Ball, Pirates Parade, Pirates Bed Race, Pirate Ship Parade, Pirate Pet Pageant, International Pirate Lobster Boat Race, crowning of the king and queen, free music and entertainment, Kid’s Pirates Breakfast and cutlass and cannon demonstrations.
“Great food and vendors are just a small part of the more than 75 events and offerings that happen all weekend. Everyone, including pets, are encouraged to dress and speak like a pirate,” he said.
Miller said the Lobster Boat Race on Sunday, Sept. 12, is open to fishermen from both the U.S. and Canada and has a grand prize of $1,000.
There also will be a $1,000 prize for “Fastest Boat In The World” category that will be decided in the grand finale U.S. vs. Canada Race.
On hand to charge up the excitement will be Galen Alley of Jonesport and his lobster boat that has been clocked at 70 miles per hour. “Galen will be challenging other boats in a special exhibition race with a $500 prize,” Miller said.
Miller said visitors will get a real taste of seaport history when they visit Eastport.
“Real pirates sailed the waters around this historic island that was once captured and occupied by the British during the War of 1812,” Miller said. “History on the island is thick as mud. Just off its shores is President Franklin Roosevelt’s beloved home at Campobello. The little shops on Water Street are the same places where Eleanor Roosevelt shopped for groceries and shoes for her children and asked the proprietors to ‘send the bill to the White House.’ The family of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow still operates the nation’s oldest ship’s chandlery on the waterfront, the world’s most famous mustard — Raye’s — is produced here, and it is not uncommon to see the faces of America’s most famous celebrities blending in with the locals.”
On Saturday morning, Sept. 11, events are geared toward children with a kids’ buffet breakfast at the Blue Iris Restaurant, a schooner ride on the tall ship Sylvina Beal, kids and youth Pirate Pageant, games and an evening performance at the Eastport Arts Center by the Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers.
The Gallager Brothers will be performing on the Pirate Stage on Saturday morning as they shoot a new music video with the Pirate Festival as its backdrop.
A Thieves Market will be offered all weekend at participating pirate-friendly merchants. Throughout the downtown area, the streets will be filled with food and craft vendors.
Miller said the Eastport Pirate Bed Race is still recruiting teams. Rules and registration forms can be found on the Pirate Festival website.
The Pirate Parade is open to everyone with a pirate-themed entry and the Pirates Ball will be held at the Chowder House on Friday night where the king and queen of the pirates will be crowned.
On Saturday night, at least a dozen pirate-themed events are planned at all of the restaurants, pubs, bars and eateries around the city.
“Not only is this event attended by thousands of people of all ages, it also enjoys the support of several dozen dedicated volunteers who work year round and almost 200 businesses and individuals from as far away as Florida, California, England and Fiji who contribute generously,” said organizer and treasurer Christopher Wadsworth Brown.
For those wishing to obtain event, vendor or race information, a complete schedule can be found at www.eastportpiratefestival.com.
For further details, call Brown at 853-4343.