By Connie Leinbach
Organizers of the Second Annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree were thrilled about the success of this post-season event despite the threat of serious weather over the Halloween weekend.
“We’re very happy with the outcome given the circumstances we were delat with,” said Daphne Bennink, event committee chair. “Our hope was to maintain the schedule through 3 p.m. Saturday and we were able to do so.”
The jamboree, organized by a committee under the auspices of the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association, hired several “professional” pirate crews to recreate life in the 1700s on Ocracoke Island, the site where Blackbeard was killed Nov. 22, 1718.
The event began Friday, Oct. 31, while the crews arrived on the island and began to set up their camps on the lawn of the Wahab House amid the threat of a fall storm that was forecast to hit the island Saturday afternoon, the main day of the activities.
Organizers on Friday night rearranged Saturday’s schedule to combine the two-ship battle around 11 a.m. before the severe weather was scheduled to hit around 3 p.m. Activities scheduled in the afternoon outside of Books to be Red were moved into the Deepwater Theater next door, and the Saturday evening Shadow Players show and Bawdy Beer Garden were moved to the Ocracoke Community Center.
The event opened Friday evening in the Ocracoke Community Center with a game-show format history lesson of “fact or fiction” about Blackbeard, conducted by Kevin P. Duffus, who on Oct. 25 was named North Carolina Historian of the Year. Duffus is the author of “The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate,” which sifts through the myths and facts about arguably the most famous pirate in history.
On the island to film the entire weekend was Carl White, director of the syndicated show “Life in the Carolinas.” White said the segment on the Pirate Jamboree will air sometime in January.
“Kevin is the reason I’m here,” White said before the game show began, explaining that he had met Duffus during the Historian of the Year awards and Duffus encouraged him to come to Ocracoke for the weekend. White ended up being on one of the two teams of the “game show.”
Laura Noel, or “Madame Grace,” events master for Blackbeard’s Pirate Crew, the living history group camped on the Wahab House lawn, said on Sunday after the Lunch with the Pirates at Howard’s Pub that the entire weekend was “absolutely fabulous.”
Noel and the crew also commemorated the founder of their group, the late Captain Pernell Taylor, who died in April, during the memorial ceremony Sunday morning at the dock of the Wahab House for Blackbeard and his crew.
“He would be honored that we went to such great lengths to give him a proper send-off,” she continued about Taylor, for whom the group posted a commemorative poster at their campsite.
Captain Ben Bunn, captain of the skipjack the Ada Mae, which was one of the boats in the Saturday battle, said that even the weather made the event fantastic.
“That’s no challenge for a bunch of pirates,” he said laughing.
Bennink was happy with the turnout of attendees.
“The turnout was great as well as the overall level of enjoyment for the visitors an pirates alike,” she said. “Ocracoke will continue to be special in the lives of past and present-day pirates.