Aye, the time has come for roamin'and rovin' pirates to take over Bay Walk on Fort Myers Beach! Grab yer family and grab yer pirate gear and head on down to Old San Carlos Boulevard this weekend!
Now hosted by the Pollo Tropical restaurant, the eighth annual Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival is expected to be bigger and better than ever, hitting the streets of Bay Walk Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11 to 13.
During the Columbus Day weekend festivities, enjoy all things "pirate," as specially themed events take place for three days straight - everything from a Pirate's Ball, treasure hunts, a sea battle and pirate shows to tall-tale-tellin', kids games and activities, musical shows and pirate cruises, all kicking off with a Roving Pirates Stroll Friday evening.
"It's going to be absolutely amazing this year," said Bud Nocera, president of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, producer of the event. "Pollo Tropical actually approached us, seeing the festival on our website, and expressed an interest. They were looking to expand the awareness of their brand, and, let me tell you, it is really good fast food. So, with our new main sponsor, it's going to be bigger and better than ever. For the first time, we're going to have two stages during the festival: one in the parking lot across from the Smokin' Oyster Brewery, which is more of a kids' area, and the other will be down by the fountain."
Nocera points out how family oriented the festival has become, and how it continues to grow.
"During the day, the whole Pirate's Fest is really geared toward families, and we have lots of activities geared toward the kids," he said. "We're going to give the kids a sheet of characters they can find roving the streets. Each character the child finds will give them a special coin or gift, mark off their name, and then move on to the next. Another indication showing it's growing, there will be three ships in the pirate battle this year, and an entire back story to the event - like a flashback to 1718. There may be a "kidnapping," lots more black powder, more muskets and cannons than ever before."
tournament and giveaway
A fishing rod and reel giveaway will be awarded to the first 25 children accompanied by their parents at the Pollo Tropical Pirate Fest Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Fort Myers Beach waterfront, under the bridge between Matanzas Inn and Nervous Nellie's. Children are encouraged to bring their own poles, but the first 25 who come each day without one will receive a free rod and reel.
The 50 fishing rods and reels have been made possible through donations provided by the Smokin' Oyster Brewery, Lighthouse Island Resort, Liberty Coast Construction and Gavin's Ace Hardware. Rudy's Treasure Chest on the Fort Myers Beach Fishing Pier will provide bait for the contest, and the grand prize winner will receive a custom hand-made fishing rod courtesy of Hot Rods by Al Vacks. Runners-up will receive awards donated by Krusty Pete's on the Beach.
Children must be accompanied by a parent or adult, limit one rod and reel per family for the two-day event.
The Pirate's Ball
For adult pirates looking for some evening fun, the annual Pirate's Ball will commence Saturday evening, starting at 8 p.m., featuring live music, plenty of ale-drinkin' and even a best-dressed pirate contest, which kicks off at 9 p.m., offering the perfect opportunity for all scalawags to dance under the stars.
"Even the Pirate's Ball is going to be bigger and better than ever," Nocera said. "It will be taking up the whole area by Nervous Nellie's, the fountain and Snug Harbor, held outside - the weather is going to be wonderful - and all of our entertainment is period entertainment. So, during the ball, the very talented Celtic Stew will perform. It all fits in with the time period. Interest in the festival has been amazing, and we've had group interest from Tampa Bay and Orlando; pirate crews are coming in from all over. If someone wants a room for the night, they should get one now. Lots are coming in from out of town and there aren't many remaining."
Sponsored by Nervous Nellie's, tickets to the Pirate's Ball are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
The Thieves' Marketplace
For those who like to find a good bargain, be sure to peruse the Thieves' Marketplace for uncovered trinkets, treasure and authentic period pieces.
"Eighteen of the 40 vendors will be selling authentic pirate 'stuff:' costumes for men and women, leatherware, goods and accoutrements," Nocera said. "If someone doesn't have their pirate outfit yet, we'll have a good 18 vendors from whom they can buy their garb."
The Pub and Grub Crawl
The Pub and Grub Crawl is an event that allows crawlers a good, solid week to visit each of 10 local Fort Myers Beach locations, sampling either some tasty brew, a delicious app, or perhaps both - or more!
"You can purchase a coupon book that has $90 worth of coupons for only $20, good from now through Monday," Nocera said. "It's great for anyone participating in the festival, or anyone who wants to save some money and visit some of our most fun restaurants on the beach."
Participating locations include Paradise Tropical Wines, the Yucatan Beach Stand, Smokin' Oyster Brewery, Nervous Nellie's, Zushi Zushi, Skip One Seafoods, Royal Scoop ice cream parlor, Matanzas Inn restaurant, Pincher's Crab Shack, and Ugly's upstairs at Nervous Nellie's.
Bud said you can purchase the fully loaded coupon books at the Chamber office (17200 San Carlos Blvd.), Gavin's Ace Hardware (16025 San Carlos Blvd.), at the Chamber tent during the event, or online, PolloTropicalPiratefest.com.
Kicking off the
All of these scandalous, treasure-seekin' harmonious events will all kick off Friday night with a pirate stroll.
"We're going to kick off the Pollo Tropical Pirate Fest Friday, at The Cottage, starting at 6 p.m., with a Roving Pirate Stroll," Nocera said. "We ask all pirates to join us, walking from The Cottage down to Matanzas Inn and Restaurant, where we will be greeted by the Pieces of Eight pirate ship, taking 90 people across the bay to Big Game, where the celebration continues."
Throughout the evening, Nocera said Big Game will be offering shuttle services back and forth to the beach.
Parking yer land vehicles
As for parking, Nocera is sure to point out there will be plenty of it - as well as a shuttle service.
"There will be lots of public and private lots around the festival that will available that day," he said. "But, if we run out of spots, there will be a shuttle bus continuously running from Parrot Key to the festival Saturday and Sunday."
All of these scandalous, treasure-seekin' harmonious Pirates and wenches will be rovin' through the streets of Fort Myers Beach this weekend, as a wide array of vendors offer trinkets and treasures from across the globe. Melodies, music and miscellaneous mishap can be seen, and an epic sea battle, featuring our very own Pieces of Eight pirate ship, will commence on the high seas of the back bay for all to see.
For further information on the any of these special offerings, a full schedule of weekend events or anything else that has to do with pirate-watchin' and pirate-rovin,' visit PolloTropicalPirateFest.com.
So stop on down to the north end of the island this weekend. Yarrrr not gonna want to miss it!