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William Brand

Tell us about your favorite events

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This topic was born of a question and suggestions from another thread, so we're making it a thread unto itself.

Tell us about your favorite events. Tell us why you like them, for any reasons which seem important to you. This isn't a thread about pros and cons or the why and why not, but just your personal reasons for liking event. Lots of events have pros and cons, but we're interested in what you like about particular events and what you would suggest to someone who has never been to them or the locations in which they're held. You can decide how to define it, so don't worry about the definitions of others. Just tell us about your favorites and what keeps bringing you back time and again to festivals, parties, re-enactments, gatherings, fundraisers, what-have-you.

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I'll start.

FTPI, Key West Fl., late November/early December. It's where I started reenacting and is a great venue with great people. Lots of black powder, lots of ships to sail on, lots of cannon to fire. Florida. Beach. Old Town Key West. Kind of a combination of hard-core Hollywood and hard-core reenactors where all are welcome and welcoming. So much to do that you have to compare notes with others and see their pictures to understand what just happened. Gate duty. http://www.forttaylorpyrates.com/

Searles Sack of St. Augustine. Saint Augustine, FL, late February. Slightly earlier than GAoP but minor kit changes will get you there. More of an accurate, period appropriate event re-creating an actual event. On the waterfront, black powder, sword work if you want, pike and cannon. Period meals provided. May or may not have ships, although this year a Spanish galeon was on hand where dinner was served. http://www.searlesbucs.com/

Old Florida Festival, Collier County Museum grounds, Naples, FL, early March. Historic timeline event, so not all pyrates. Meals provided, black powder. Some cannon but could use more if you have them. Geared to the public and education. Camping on the grounds, meals provided although not period. Wood provided so you can cook your own. This event you can make as real as you want. http://www.oldfloridafestival.com/

Alafia River Rendezvous, Homeland FL, mid January. Pre-1840 event, heavy on mountain man/native American/frontier impressions. No Civil War. Best reenactor shopping in the southeast. Week-long event covering two weekends. Public only allowed the last two days so the event is for the reenactor to "live the life" without interruption. Lots of interaction between reenactors. Wood provided. Black powder live-fire competition. Historic pyrate impressions welcome. http://www.floridafrontiersmen.org/alafia2014.html

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I would have to say Searle's Raid 1668 in St. Augustine, FL. The event always has a ton of great people. In recent years I am starting to favour the late seventeenth century stuff more than the high GAoP. Conveniently it also falls at the end of winter, so it is great to get out after being cooped up all winter and travel south (for me) to where it has always been warmed than at home for the time of year. The food (like Jim mentioned) is usually great, and often made from really interesting period recipes. While the overall level of authenticity is pretty high at the event, it is relaxed enough that a beginner could find the event approachable. I have also witnessed first hand the efforts many at the event will go through to help a beginner out with loaning gear etc. The town of St.Augustine itself is beautiful, with tons to do an see. There is also a vast variety of interesting restaurants and bars. The camping area at the Fountain of Youth park is magnificient, and near the water (no beach, but on the water all the same). I have been attending the event for 6 years now, and I have missed it once in that time... and I terribly regret missing it even that once (and also wish I had found the event earlier).

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Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion and Put-in-Bay Pirate Fest are pretty much on equal footing for me.

Both events are in fun places, are distant enough to be separated from the regular world, have great nightlife and feel very accommodating. I love the mix of fantasy and historic reenactors at each event. Plus I like the people who show up - both the general public and the reenactors.

Anything can happen at either event... and often does.

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Fort Taylor Pirate Invasion -

It was my first, and for the longest time, my only event. I can't help but love it. I spend so much time touting it and planning and participating that's it hard not to love it. First, the location makes for some of the greatest atmosphere one could ask for, from camping in the fort, to sailing past it on a tall ship, it's just a great place. And where else could gate duty be one of the most entertaining evenings. The people there just make it all worthwhile. There are bigger cannon every year. Great repeat vendors for food and kit.

Searles Sack of St. Augustine

Camping in the Fountain of Youth park is fantastic. The city is filled with original structures and cobblestone streets. The battle in terms of scale and distance is fun to be a part of and the Buccaneer hosts make you really feel right at home. For those who have never attended, the event is specific to the historic event of 1668, so you'll see some of the finest period clothing and firearms imaginable.

Utah Pirate Festival

Where else can you hear a really good pirate Rock Band, while eating a deep fried oreo, and watching Jack Sparrow in a fox costume, chasing a buccaneer carrying a mermaid, while a dancer stands on her head twirling burning hoola-hoops? It's great, weird fun with some of the friendliest crowd around.

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Can we push this topic a little further? What about addressing these events from both the perspective as a participant/ volunteer (kit requirements, contact suggestions, what you will be required to do) and as an attendee (t-shirt, sun glasses, maybe a costume)???

Example: I attended Pirates in Paradise for my first and only time in 2005. I was curious and wanted to participate but uncertain who to approach and how to introduce myself. What was required? What is my commitment to the event( I've read Mission's posts about watching a gate late into the night at Fort Taylor)? Is there a cost for meals after hours or in the camp ground (or by invitation only)? So I simply attended the event and had a wonderful time.

Some folks might want to scout out an event first before jumping in. Others are a little braver and go in head first! Some have restrictions especially if coming in for a pirate event from out of time. Some have family that may or may not want to participate but will attend.

I would find these details helpful.

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The website for the event should have that info or, at the very least, names and contact info for people who can tell you. I know of very few events with kit requirements. In fact, Searle's is the only one that comes immediately to mind.

But then I'm one of those people who just show up. In for a penny, in for a pound. (Of course I do that after reading the website and getting in touch with people I've 'met' on the web.)

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Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion (FTPI), not to be confused with Pirates in Paradise (PIP) which has been a coinciding scheduled event, has been and continues to be my favorite event.

Scouting:

Scouting the first event was difficult from my home in Arizona to say the least. But made easier by the many comments and interactions on the Pyracy.com forum. It sounded fantastic (kinda like Gettysburg from a civil War reenactor's viewpoint) and the people seemed very genuine. As I didn't know a soul that attended the event (outside of a few interactions on the Pyracy Forum), I decided to camp. I have found thru the years that if you camp with people you become accepted much more readily and helping with camp chores lets you meet the folks around camp. In short - you feel that you fit in immediately. If you just daytrip, you can do the same but have to make a concerted effort and still miss people and interactions you wouldn't otherwise have. So to say I jumped in with both feet is an accurate statement.

Camping:

Since I was flying almost 2000 miles I built a compact traveling kit which I can camp with and have used on several occasions - tent, blanket and cot or hammock all in a single duffel bag. (Key West flights are limited to a carry-on and one checked bag) Between the garb I already had, shirts and breeches... and a complete new outfit (slops, shirt, vest, sailor's bag) that I hand-sewed prior to the event i fit in quite well and was complimented on several occasions.

I made many long-time friends that first year and continue to meet new people every year I go, several of which I attend other events with.The folks there are very welcoming and accepting, whether you are a beginner (this was my first Pirate event in 2009 - I was a AWI/ACW reenactor prior).

Things to do:

There is usually a choice of multiple things to do at any one time, this means you will miss some things, but keeping an open mind makes it all work for you.

Signing up for camp and gate duties sounds like a chore, but as William says above, its actually one of our crews highlights now. Just look at everything as an "adventure" and you will have a great time.

All in all prepare to be delighted by the many happenings that take place, Dead man's chest auction, pig roast, cannon battles, sailing, impromptu shenanigans and historical demonstrations. If you are creative, even gate duty becomes an "event".

Cost:

Cost of the event is minimal, the contacts are very helpful, and can help get you to/from the airport/event on request.

There are several meals provided, and a vendor or two on site that provide meals, but always best to prepare to make or buy at least some.

People there have varied backgrounds and are some of the most interesting people I've ever met.

mP

Edited by madPete

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