Yo, Ho, Ho, scallywaggers and scurvy dogs pass the bloody grog and a wi’ a wannion on thar swaggy squiffiies. By the powers o’ the lady lasses and wenches o-erly fair, pass the weevily gruelly, and go on account to rail through and through lily-livered, loosey law-givers, and son’s of biscuit eaters fer thar gleamy goldy pieces o’ the booty.
The June 2009 Pirate Festival in Vallejo, CA was a blast to say the bloody least. Several small cannon, 2, 5, and 10-lbers boom and pop for tips to support the cause. An old country carnival atmosphere, events include swash-101, builwhip-101, axe throw 101, a mouse in the hole game, gambling with wooden die and colored numbers, target practice with a water cannon, fortune tellers, and a tomato toss at some less than savory characters through a hole as they taunt their aggressors.
Several Privateers and lesser louts duel at telling outrageous, bold stories of the sea, Davy Jones, and world-wide conquest to win a kiss from a maiden fair; several music groups sing and jig, including pirate rock and madrigal (if that’s possible in pirate-ease?). British officers and their toads establish a historical encampment with recreations of the era everyday. Every other hour’s bells they patrol the camps for sedition, drunkenness, and any unsavory behavior.
Merchants sell pirate attire and all manner of accoutrements: one sells steel stabbing tools and eye pieces, another sells wooden facsimiles; several barter, hats, rags, parasols, leather pouches, armor and restraints, both friendly and other wise. My favorite offers authentic pieces of eight from the Caribbean and many a sparkly bobble for the misses, a lady, or comely winch.
I stop at the Emerson Family for a tellin’ of my future. Her cards are laid out on one edge of her small table next to a crystal ball. She instructs me to put my right hand on top of an old empty coffee can half full of bones, and to pick three cards. She lays them on the table in front of me and says, “Ye be movin’ from one sit-yeation to another. Ye be a generous spirit, but (the third card), beware-y of unscrupulous naives who parlay on ye nature.” She smiles a partial toothy grin, and takes my left hand. “Dearly, ye needs a bit of encouragement and lightening.” She crosses my right and sets it in on a massive silver ball at the edge of the table. “Close ye beauty brown peepers, breathe slow, and concentrate on me words.”
Buzz, ZAP!!! A spark and jolt of electricity jumps across my flesh and bones, my eyes and mouth are as wide as saucers. She giggles and points at her tip jar. I cannot resist and smile back. I dig in my wallet for a fiver or ten. She bats her eyes, “Thank ye kind Lord.” I turn to leave and 6-foot pirate with a white face and blood dripping from the sides of his mouth looks in my eyes. He holds a 3-foot cutlass across his belly.
“Pass,” she says.
He smiles and steps aside “Fare they well, sir,” he grumbles.
The gathering is supported through tips and fees of vendors and family. I drop a twenty in the plate and offer a kiss to the hand of the fair lady at the exit. Next year, I will, as most faire goers, attire myself in pirate rags, suit, or Indian feather. I will have to practice the accent and lingua of the brethrens to pass more than just a tourist.
She smiles, flutters her eyes and raises her bosom, which is already trussed to the nines. “Please dear sir, come ye again.”