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By Connie Leinbach
In 300 years since his demise, Blackbeard has become the best-known pirate in history, and the popularity of recent Hollywood movies has created a fanatical interest in the man and his times.
Numerous books and competing histories vie for the definitive Blackbeard story: Was he born in the colonies or England? What truly was his name: Edward Teach, Edward Thatch, or Edward Beard? Was he really as fierce as he’s been portrayed? Did he bury treasure on Ocracoke?
Ocracoke Island is one of the few places in the world that can claim genuine Blackbeard history. The man and many of his crew were vanquished off Springer’s Point on Nov. 22, 1718, in an engagement with British Royal Navy sailors led by Lt. Robert Maynard.
2018 marks the 300th anniversary of that historic day, and Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree has expanded to four days, Thursday, Oct. 25 to Sunday, Oct. 28.
The event kicks off Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at a ticketed food and beverage event in the Berkley Barn with the Motley Tones and a lecture by Kevin Duffus.
Named Historian of the Year in 2014 by the North Carolina Society of Historians, Duffus has done extensive research with primary sources over many decades to discover the true origins of the man called Blackbeard, detailed in his book “The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate.”
Duffus’s talk will focus on the political motivations back then.
As Duffus says:
“Capturing or killing Blackbeard and the few remaining members of
his pirate crew at Ocracoke was simply a pretext for the seizure of written evidence from Blackbeard’s possessions that would prove that the colony’s government had been colluding with pirates. As it happened, Blackbeard and his friends from Bath, many of whom were killed, were unwitting pawns caught in the middle of what turned out to be a failed political coup.
The future ownership and control of North Carolina was the ultimate contest.”
In addition to Halloween parties at restaurants, Jamboree events all over the village Friday and Saturday will include a vendor fair, a food court and beer garden in Community Square, seafaring and tavern songs, sword-fight demonstrations, pirate bands, a family night magic show, merchandise and a living-history encampment on the Berkley Manor grounds.
These historically accurate camps teach about the 17th- and 18th-century maritime heritage, from navigation, weaving and cooking to shipboard medicine and hygiene.
The centerpiece event Saturday afternoon at 2 in Ocracoke’s Silver Lake harbor will recreate Blackbeard and Maynard’s three-ship battle.
The Jamboree will conclude with the memorial to both Blackbeard’s and Maynard’s crews Sunday morning at 10 with a march from Blackbeard’s Lodge to the beach at Springer’s Point. Lunch with the Pirates will follow at noon in Ocracoke Oyster Company.
A brief schedule is below, and a detailed program of events will be available on the island prior to the event and can also be viewed online at www.visitocracokenc.com.