Hampton, Virginia Celebrates Very Special 10th Annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival

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Demise of most daunting colonial pirate celebrated in three-day tenth anniversary event; Prepare to Walk the Plank!

Pirates run rampant on the streets of downtown Hampton during the 10th annual Hampton Blackbeard Pirate Festival.

Arggh Mateys! Be prepared to walk the plank as a very special 10th annual Hampton Blackbeard Pirate Festival sails into the coastal seaport city of Hampton, Virginia June 5- 7, 2009. Celebrate Hampton's rich maritime heritage by commemorating the demise of Hampton's most infamous visitor, Captain Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard the Pirate.

During the later part of the 1600's and early 1700's, pirates roamed the coastal waters of Virginia and North Carolina in search of ships laden with tobacco and other goods. The marauders terrorized waterways and unsuspecting cargo ships, capturing goods, sailors and ships. Captain Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate, was the most daunting of these menacing outlaws.

After years of wreaking havoc on Virginia's shores and economy, Blackbeard's life was finally taken in a violent sea battle with Lieutenant Robert Maynard in 1718. His severed head was impaled upon a pole near the mouth of Hampton Creek, now known as Blackbeard's Point, to serve as an unyielding reminder that piracy would not be tolerated in Virginia.

This June 5- 7, 2009, join roughly 50,000 other seafaring attendees as Blackbeard and his crew once again invade downtown Hampton in search of booty. Interact with Blackbeard, personified by first person interpreter Ben Cherry, and more than 100 other authentically costumed pirate re-enactors as they run rampant on the cobblestone streets of America's oldest continuously English speaking settlement.

The festivities kick off Friday night June 5 from 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. with a very special 10th anniversary Grand Pirates Ball (creative black tie or period attire strictly enforced!) taking place at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. The celebration, a recreation of Blackbeard's Party at Okracoke, will feature sea chanties, food, beverages, and more. Though the festival is free, there is an admission charge for the ball. Advance tickets go on sale May 9.

Beginning Saturday June 6, activities include a swarm of extemporized street skirmishes between pirates and militia (costumed interpreters), a replica of Blackbeard's pirate camp, complete with living history interpreters teaching the skills of the sailor circa 1700, and the trial and escape of William Howard, one of Blackbeard's fellow pirates with ties to Hampton. Tall ships will also be on display along the downtown Hampton waterfront towering over more than 50 private sail and powerboats.

The festival's highlight will be an exhilarating re-enactment of the classic sea battle between Lt. Maynard and Blackbeard, featuring two full - scale replica vessels in the Hampton Harbor. At the conclusion of the sea battle a presentation ceremony takes place in which Blackbeard's severed head will be bestowed upon Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood (1710-1722). Visitors can participate in the festivities when they join Blackbeard's funeral parade, Hampton's own version of Marti Gras, and share in the booty from the treasure chest.

Other amusements include jugglers, musicians, a Pirate procession, street entertainers, and a very special pirate-themed Summer Street Fest, a seasonal street party that takes place every Saturday night in downtown Hampton. Of course, no festival would be complete without black powder pirate booty, a.k.a. fireworks! Saturday will conclude at 9:30 p.m. with a dramatic fireworks display over the Hampton River.

This year, the festival will once again feature the Blackbeard children's area, highlighting The Little Swashbuckler's Stage. The stage will host several performances, including a puppet show and a variety or musical acts. There will also be a number of inflatable rides, hands-on crafts, contests, and a treasure dig.

On Sunday, guests will have the opportunity to stroll through Blackbeard's Pirate Camp where they can learn how to use a cutlass, load a cannon, or even sing a sea chantey at Pirate's Cove. At the cove, visitors can also explore a collection of 17th& 18th century period vendors selling items such as jewelry, clothing, art, and personal accessories. (Pirate's Cove is the perfect place to find that great period costume for the 10th annual Grand Pirates Ball).

Another highlight of Pirate's Cove is The Bunch of Grapes Tavern, a rustic tavern-style throwback to what a Hampton bar would have looked like in the 18th century. In fact, the tavern is an actual recreation of Hampton's original Bunch of Grapes Tavern from the 1700s. Feel free to rub elbows with some of the local swashbucklers and be served by wenches.

10th annual Hampton Blackbeard Pirate Festival Schedule:

Friday, June 5: Noon-5:00 p.m. (Pirate Cove)
7:00 p.m. -11:00 p.m. (Grand Pirates Ball)

Saturday, June 6: 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Sunday, June 7: Noon- 4:00 p.m.

The festival is free and open to the pubic, but there is a charge for the Grand Pirate Ball. The Grand Pirate Ball is the only activity at the festival with an admission charge.

Those looking for dock space during the Blackbeard Festival are encouraged to contact marinas located throughout the downtown area, including the Hampton Public Piers (757/727-1276), Customs House Marina (757/868-9375), Bluewater Marina (757/723-6774), Sunset Boating Center (757/722-3325). Call for details and availability.    

For more information on these and other Hampton events and programs, individuals are encouraged to contact the Hampton Visitor Center at 757-727-1102, or the Virginia Air & Space Center at 757/727-0900. For those into surfing the web, try http://www.blackbeardpiratefestival.com.

Partially bordered by the Hampton Roads harbor and Chesapeake Bay, Hampton, with its 344,000 sq. ft. Hampton Roads Convention Center, is located in the center of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. Hampton is the site of America's first continuous English-speaking settlement and is home to such visitor attractions as the Virginia Air & Space Center and Riverside IMAX ® Theater, the Cousteau Society, Hampton History Museum, harbor tours and cruises, Hampton University Museum, Fort Monroe, award-winning Hampton Coliseum, The American Theatre, among others. Hampton was twice-named All-America City, the nation's oldest and most prominent community recognition award.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Pirates are available for interviews. Please call 727-0900, ext. 730 to schedule an appointment.

Ryan LaFata, 757-728-5328
Megan Steele, 757-727-0900, ext. 730

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