I’ve just returned from my trip to Hampton, Virginia for the annual Hampton Blackbeard Festival. Two days after the festival I am still exhausted. That can only mean one thing. I had a heck of a great time! This blog post is part one of my Hampton experience.
Because Hampton is located 13 hours from my home, I left on Thursday near 4 AM and made few stops. The first was in Jacksonville, Florida to pick up Joe Catalano of Bawdy Anne’s Buccaneers. I would be working under his flag, doing children’s history performances, for the weekend. Four hours later, we made a quick stop at exit 90 in South Carolina to pick up CJ of the Archangel crew at the creepy Exxon (no, really, it’s listed on foursquare as “creepy Exxon” and it really is a creepy looking gas station). A mere six to seven hours more of driving and we arrived in Hampton.
Hugs started almost immediately. I saw Dutch and Grace before check-in and in addition to hugs let Grace sneak into the carrot cake cupcakes I had brought. As I headed out to the venue site and there were lots more hugs to go around. There were also more of the carrot cake cupcakes that I had promised to bring. I think Mama Ratzi was in love with hers.
Joe and I did not have much to do on Thursday afternoon, or so we thought. Within an hour of being on site we’d been pressed into service by Blackbeard’s Crew. They need a few roles read during their play rehearsal. This picture is from my rehearsal vantage point. I love Constable’s ‘hearing aid’!
Later on, it turned out they didn’t just need roles read in rehearsal, they needed a couple of roles filled in the shows, and we each ended up with parts to learn. Mine was more fun, I got to be in a bar brawl. But we’ll get to that later.
Being there a day early I met up with Fayma (Momma Ratzi) and Lily, my pirate sisters and Fayma deemed a sit-down dinner together necessary. So we went to the restaurant in the hotel along with the Viceroy and Joe and had a fantastic meal (Thanks Fayma for the recommendation – momma always knows best ☺ ) . Lily, Fayma and I were also entertained by the Viceroy and Joe in a battle of wits at the table. There were even a few snort-worthy moments.
On Friday, there was a little more activity. There were pirates everywhere and it was much like old school week. From seeing the Colonial Seaport Foundation folks to Blackbeard’s Crew, the Archangel Crew, Dark Rose Pirates, The Brigands, The Pirates Magazine crew, Weeping Heart Trading Co, etc. everywhere I looked there were faces I had not seen in six months, a year or more. And new faces to meet such as the Bawdy Buccaneers, Keith and Cindy Iritsky and others that I had the pleasure of getting to know. I truly wished there was more time to enjoy everyone’s company!
We had our first children’s show on the “Little Swashbuckler” stage and it went swimmingly. I also had a chance to get my picture taken with Capt’n Sharky, a children’s book character who was on hand (and as my side note…inside the Capt’n Sharky outfit was a pretty good looking British gent… just thought you would like to know 🙂 ).
Friday evening brought the ball. As I did not have a ball gown, Madam Grace was so kind as to bring one for me. The important note here, however, is that Madam Grace is probably two sizes smaller than I am. But with a lot of tugging we were able to get the bodice closed. Here’s my picture with First Mate Matt to prove it.
At the ball I had the pleasure of chatting with Ben Cherry (a.k.a. Blackbeard) and his lovely bride DG. We were talking about festivals in Florida as well as the islands that we had been to and comparing notes. It was during this conversation when I was impressed at how kind and accommodating of a gentleman he is. Over the course of perhaps a 15-minute conversation dozens of people walked up all wanting a picture with the famous Blackbeard. And every time he treated them like they were his biggest fans, all smiles and with a fun pose for the camera. And yes, I got one of those photos as well. Momma Ratzi snapped this one while I was waiting for Papa to take an ‘official photo’ with Blackbeard and DG.
And here’s Poppa’s Photo
Also over the course of the evening, I met up with Captain Sterling, who I was pretty sure was supposed to be my date for the evening but as usual, let me waiting. That said, for those who know the back-story, once I found the captain I was fed bread and roast beef, not just chicken! If you don’t know the story, well perhaps you should get out to more events so you are better informed in pirate jokes! ☺
There was one experience that was quite new for me at the ball. It could have been a bad one, but thanks to the people that were around, and the quick actions and professionalism of the crew in charge, everything turned out just fine. I had become the unwilling recipient of the affections of one attendee of the ball. He did not seem interested in taking no for an answer and at one point began to push past people that were blocking him from me, to try and get to me. This is where CJ and Joe became my own personal “brute squad”. They literally became a “wall” in front of me while someone found management, Capt Pern, who quickly and politely escorted the man out of the ball, had a chat with him, and that was the last I saw of him for the night. He also was not any sort of bother for the rest of the weekend.
I’m not the person these things usually happen too. I suppose in some part, perhaps I should be flattered? After all, he was willing to push through a combined, oh, 500 pounds or so of large men who looked like they could definitely do some damage and were creating a human wall in his attempt to get near me. At the same time, it was a little creepy, okay quite a bit creepy. But I am extremely grateful that the management of the event was so quick on point to take care of the problem the second they knew about it and make sure it did not recur!
And, for the second time I danced at an event. I blame the Brigands for this. The first time I danced was at Southern Pirate Festival last fall. It was their music that got my feet tapping and next thing I knew I was dancing. That happened again this evening and next thing I knew I was out on the floor.
This is a picture the Time Travel Tourists took that shows Joe with a big smile. I think it was an ‘I’m going to spin her until she gets sick’ evil smile. I am pretty sure my look, if you could have seen it, was that of terror. I was periodically not sure whether he was trying to twirl me or remove my arm. It was fun nonetheless. Soon Grace joined in and we saw how good he was at double twirling women. He did pretty well. I wonder if anyone got pictures of that?