This is the first time we’ve been to Eastport’s Pirate Festival. It is quite a bash and is a much bigger and better attended affair than last weekend’s Salmon Festival. There are dozens of activities and easily ten times as many people as there were at the Salmon Festival. Our campground was only about a third full on Friday morning and by Friday evening it was completely full. We got to the Festival about 11 AM on Saturday and by noontime the streets were packed with people.
Water Street, which is pretty much Eastport’s Main Street, was blocked off at both ends. People were parked everywhere for blocks away and the police were rapidly putting up no parking signs along the street we drove in on. We were fortunate to find a spot on the town dock and only had to walk a block or so. It was foggy and on the windy side when we first got there and we were glad we brought light jackets with us. The sun came out by early afternoon though, and it warmed up comfortably.
The sailing ship HMS Bounty (the replica built for the movie) was at one of the town docks. Most of the downtown businesses participated by decorating their storefronts to a piratical theme. When we got there there was a duo playing pirate songs on a stage that had been erected on the harbor side of the street. Later, another group was playing down by the harbor.
Quite a few of the people there participated in the spirit of the festival, often with quite elaborate and detailed costumes. There were a lot of families where all the adults and children dressed in pirate attire complete with eye patches and cutlasses. In between events there was a constant, informal parade of pirates and wenches up and down the street with a lot of “arrhhh”-ing and a lot of photos taken. There was surprisingly little duplication in the costumes that we saw. Yes, everybody dressed to the “pirate” and “wench” theme, but there was a lot of originality.
We strolled up and down the street a couple of times, taking a look at the people, stores and concession stands. The street kept getting more and more crowded and we finally staked out a spot on one of the sidewalks. Our spot turned out to be downwind of some of the food stands, so after a while Susan got hungry and asked me to pick up some lunch. I went by a couple stands and finally brought back fresh lobster rolls and then went back and got chocolate creme puffs.
The Pirate Parade started with a couple police cars and their sirens, followed by motorcycle pirates. A lot of the local businesses and organizations then came by with their home-made pirate floats. One group tossed pirate necklaces to the crowd and other groups tossed candy and toys to the children. I was most amused that the Eastport Book Club tossed (handed out, actually) books.
After the parade we took another stroll up and down the street, but it was very crowded and the lines from some of the concession stands stretched all the way across the street so it was slow going. We only made it up and back once and then they started setting things up for the Bed Races so we found a place to park ourselves.
The sidewalks had been well packed for the Pirate Parade but for the Bed Races people were jammed on both the sides of the street and the sidewalk. The announcer warned everybody that the beds often went out of control and that the curbs were there to protect people when that happened. He then asked everybody to back up and when nobody moved he said you’ve been warned and that is was time for the races to begin.
The beds raced two at a time, starting at the far end of the street from us. They raced down to where we were standing, stopped and turned around, the person on the bed then raced up the stage, lowered one of the pirate flags from a pair of flag poles, raised a new flag, raced back to their bed, jumped back on and were then raced back to the start. The announcer was correct, many of the beds did not travel in a straight line and one even did a 360 half way down the course, but no bystanders were injured. There were about a half a dozen heats and then the beds with two fastest times raced against each other. The final winner was a group from a local restaurant.
It was late afternoon by that time and we were both tired, so we called it a day and went back to our campsite. There were fireworks in the early evening that we could see and hear from our campsite.
On Sunday we got downtown around noontime. The parking situation was a lot worse and we had to park several blocks away but despite that there were a lot fewer people around than on Saturday. When we got there they had started the parade of boats, which was the dozen or so boats that were going to be in the Lobster boat races a bit later. We strolled down the street where there was a small car show with about a dozen antique and muscle cars with their hoods up and a handful of motorcycles. We are not really into cars but even we know that engines aren’t usually clean enough to eat off of and all of these were.
We then moseyed down to the dock to watch the lobster boat races. It was a bit difficult to follow what was going on because we could not hear any announcements. All we could see was that four or five boats would leisurely head out to what we finally figured out was the starting line, take a couple minutes to line up and then suddenly everybody would head for the finish line near the dock. We watched about four of these heats, or at least we think it was four because it was hard to tell what with all the boats moving back and forth all the time, and that took about an hour.
There wasn’t a lot going on, the sky was overcast and we’d felt a couple raindrops so we decided to call it a day even though we’d only been there a couple hours. Saturday was obviously the real big day for the Pirate Festival. Some of the people at our campground had obviously been to the Pirate Festival before and knew this because they left this morning before we went downtown.
Overall the Pirate Festival was a lot of fun and we’re glad we went. It would probably be a fun weekend for almost anybody but especially for a family with children. Handicap accessibility was adequate but that was because we were mostly strolling up and down a blocked-off street. Our biggest complaint would be that parking was not so great and Water Street is at the bottom of a hill which meant that on Sunday we had a pretty stiff climb back to our car.