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Pirate Festival survives Hurricane Irma; hits the Beach Oct. 6-8

October 5, 2017
By ANITA FORCE MARSHALL ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Shiver Me Timbers - the 12th annual Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival rises above the aftereffects of Hurricane Irma, and promises to be a show full of lots of heart and soul. "Because of the continuing effect of Hurricane Irma on the businesses and residents of Fort Myers Beach and all of Florida, and due to the outpouring of support we received from the previous cancellation announcement, we feel it is in everyone's best interest to hold the 2017 Pirate Fest with a modified schedule," Jacki Liszak, president of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, said. "The focus of our island right now is getting our business and residential life back to normal and we are working with limited resources but, we feel that with a modified schedule and format, our Pirate Fest Weekend will still bring much needed stress relief and normalcy to our residents and guests while allowing our businesses to rebound from the hurricane's financial impact."

Mark your calendars, this much-anticipated event is scheduled for Oct. 6-8 and will be spaced along Old San Carlos Boulevard with no admission fee.

Pirate Festival entertainment and vendor coordinator Belinda Hadcock is happy that there will still be an event. "There's always a silver lining," she said. "And we're going to take advantage of this year's event changes to bring an even bigger and better Pirate Fest to Fort Myers Beach next year!"

Beautiful Estero Island and the welcoming town of Fort Myers Beach is the perfect place for a pirate festival. The deep waters of Matanzas Pass offer large ships and sailing vessels the opportunity to fly their colors and brightly decorate the waters surrounding the festival. The islanders and small businesses cheerfully greet the rogues and wenches while welcoming their pirate shenanigans.

Did you know that Estero Island was once a haven for pirates such as Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read and Jose Gaspar? The cast and crew of the Pirate Festival are very knowledgeable in pirate lore, so don't be surprised if you hear some tall tales around the pirate encampment.

"The cast and crew continue to strive to bring the best show possible to the beach year after year," Hadcock said. "Our entertainers and vendors are top-notch."

In February 2015, after only two years in the hands of Hadcock and the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, the festival was named the number two pirate festival in North America.

So dust off your eye patch and look forward to this year's show, including a kids fishing tournament, pie-eating contests, a pub quest, a treasure hunt, costume contests for children and adults, and weapons demonstrations.

Be sure to wake up with the pirates each morning at 10 a.m. as they will walk along Old San Carlos Boulevard welcoming festival-goers to the island and spreading good cheer.

Enjoy the live entertainment bustling with excitement from Times Square down to Matanzas Pass. Be on the lookout for street musicians and scallywags roaming the area to engage families in all the fun. The always popular "Find the Pirate Game" sends the little buccaneers on a wild goose chase to locate the wanted pirates pictured on the game sheet. Once found, the children return to the authentic pirate encampment to claim their prize bags.

If you are looking for a pirate's chest of booty, the festival attracts some of the finest artisan vendors, both local and from across the country. Pillage and plunder all the wares like handmade hats, jewelry, leather goods, period clothing, embellished glassware, handmade soaps and hot sauces, wooden candle boxes, fossils and sharks teeth, pirate flags and toys.

How about a face painting and henna tattoos?

"No other festival of this size boasts as many talented, creative and dedicated artists," Hadcock said. "We are proud to hear many call us their favorite festival of the year!"

For more information, call 239-454-7500 or visit



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