It’s almost Labor Day weekend, Fort Myers Beach – know what that means? One month until Pirate Festival! As we speak, event organizer Belinda Hadcock and the Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce are busy making preparations for pirates to invade our shores once again. And calling all ye pirates and wenches who found love on the high seas – this year’s festival will feature two of your favorite performers taking the real deep plunge and celebrating their wedding vows! Already chained to ye mate? Don’t worry – the 2016 Pirate Festival is also featuring a special vow renewal ceremony…
This year’s Pirate Festival will take place over Columbus Day weekend – October 7th, 8th and 9th. The event kicks off at 4pm in Time Square, with the adults-only Pirate Pub Quest, and continues for the following two days along Old San Carlos Boulevard from 10am to 5pm with tons of family fun, including the popular Pirate Bazaar, live ship battles, live music and performances and plenty to eat and drink.
“Join jolly pirates, wenches, corsairs and beauties as they make camp and prepare for battle on the edge of the Historic Seaport District of Old San Carlos,” said event organizer Belinda Hadcock of Skelton Crew Entertainment LLC. “The swashbuckling fun doesn’t stop for a moment during the Columbus Day weekend celebration. Named the #2 Pirate Festival in the Country by USA Today, this family-friendly event attracts thousands of people that come to enjoy all the fun and festivities.”
New for the 11th Anniversary of all things pirate will be the wedding of pirates Renee and D’Mitri – otherwise known as Angela Szczepanski and Ben Rodenfels – who hail from the Tampa Bay Area as part of the Gulf Coast Black Powder crew.
“Master Gunner Chris Jones of Gulf Coast Black Powder is bringing Ben and Angela along to get married this year at a special ceremony on the main stage Saturday night,” Belinda told us. “Ben has been with us since the beginning, and Angela for a couple of years now – they join my group, Skeleton Crew, as black powder specialists firing the big guns that keep the pirate ships at bay.”
Before Ben and Angela join together in marital pirate bliss, there will be a vow renewal ceremony sometime Saturday afternoon – where Mike and Keri Weeg, who fell in love as pirates Anne Bonney and Baldwin Summerwood during the 2011 Pirate Festival, invite landlubbers and swashbucklers alike to join them in renewing their vows to each other and to all things pirate!
Hadcock herself is no stranger to mixing love with the Sweet Life (as pirating used to be called). She and her husband Steve McDermet – a local charter captain with a great deal of knowledge about local pirate lore – have been involved in pirate festivals for years after getting their start in renaissance faires. Together, they have been a key part of the Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival since 2006.
“This is going to be a great addition to Pirate Festival – my husband and I did a vow renewal ceremony one year ourselves, and it was so much fun,” Belinda told us.
Presiding over the ceremonies will be another actor who is no stranger to our pirate festival – pirate historian Timothy Fraley, who will participate in the persona for which he is better known – Lord Governor Henry Hyde.
All this pirate love will be in addition to everything residents and visitors have grown to love about pirate fest won’t be happening, too.
“We’ve got some amazing performers coming back this year, and we’re going to do the pie-eating contest again because it was so popular last year,” Belinda told us. “We’ll also have lots of things for the kids, and of course our popular Pirate’s Marketplace where everyone can load up on the latest buccaneer fashions!”
Stay tuned to the Sand Paper for more news on this year’s Pirate Festival! And if ye want to join Mike and Keri and get re-shackled, er, married, email Belinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keri Hendry Weeg (aka Anne Bonney)