We’ve stumbled on some great festivals so far in our journey: The Blueberry Festival in Macias, Maine; the Arrival of the Godspeed (John Smith) in Onancock, Virginia; and last week the Pirate Festival on Okracoke Island, North Carolina. One of Pirate Blackbeard’s favorite places to hang out was a cove on Okracoke, and in response to complaints about his activities the royal governor of Virginia sent the Royal Navy to Okracoke to take care of him. A great naval battle took place in the harbor, and Blackbeard got the worst of it. The soldiers beheaded him, stuck his head on the prow of the ship, and sailed back to Virginia.
The town had three days of activities, including an amazing reenactment of the battle in the harbor. Cannon on shore were blasting the ships, and the ships were cannonading each other. In the evening were parties and singing and a great lecture by Blackbeard scholar Kevin Duffus (The Last Days of Blackbeard) on the truth vs the myth of the man and what he did. According Duffus, he was only 27 when he died. He wasn’t the rapacious figure represented in history, but merely an effective pirate who overstayed his welcome on Okracoke Island.
The island, by the way, still feels fairly remote, probably because you can get there only by ferry or plane. The prices were surprisingly low, and the locals very friendly.
The kids, as might be expected, had a great time cavorting with the pirates.