Eastport Pirate Festival Promises to Thrill Attendees

Captain Jack Smithy, a professional Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator, will be on hand throughout the Eastport Pirate Festival for photo opportunities.

By Lura Jackson


For the past decade, the Eastport Pirate Festival has been a favorite for those in the local community and those from away looking for an opportunity to let out their inner pirate. Every year has seen increasing attendance and organizers have met the desire to keep the festival fresh by adding new activities and events. Now, for its twelfth year, the festival is promising to be the most unique one yet with showcase-quality events, special guest appearances and a fireworks show unlike any other in Washington County.

Few celebrity pirates have as much renown in the modern age as Captain Jack Sparrow, and while Johnny Depp himself won’t be able to attend, the next-best option will be there. Captain Jack Smithy, a professional Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator, will be around the entire weekend for photo opportunities with festival attendees. “Due to our fantastic sponsors, we were able to get him up here to join the festival with us,” said Anthony Giard, a member of the festival’s planning committee and board of directors.

One of the most popular displays during the festival is that conducted by Ravenbane’s Firecrafts, a performing arts troupe that specializes in fire shows. While the troupe has been present intermittently during the festival in the past, this year they are taking center stage with four performances spread across Friday and Saturday. The troupe’s shows involve juggling fire, using whips and hoops with fire on them, firebreathing and more, all choreographed to “really intense music”, Giard explains. “The entire show is visually stunning.” 

The first show that Ravenbane’s Firecrafts will perform will be on Friday night during the Pirate’s Ball at the Chowder House. The troupe will be performing on the pier itself just above the water. On Saturday, the troupe will perform a total of three times, including just before the fireworks display at 7:30. 

Another notable feature this year will be just before the fire show on Saturday, beginning at 6:00: a street dance on the main staging area on Water Street. Featuring Whoopy Kat, Maine’s foremost classic rock band, the street dance will enable pirate-attired attendees to shake their peg legs in anticipation of the fireworks show.

The fireworks show itself promises to be unlike any other ever held in this area. “It is going to be the most elaborate fireworks display we’ve done, and we’ve had some really elaborate ones,” Giard said. “We worked for an entire year with the fireworks company to develop these surprises for the crowd, and I think everybody’s going to be pretty impressed with it.” If you’re planning on coming to see this one-of-a-kind visual bonanza, come early to be sure you can get a good spot by the waterfront itself.

This year’s festival is also offering a new contest for those with an artist lean. Artists are invited to submit pirate-themed artwork during the festival. Submissions will be displayed publicly and attendees will be able to vote on their favorite pieces. The submission with the most votes will net its owner a cash prize, and it will be used for next year’s flyer. For submission details, visit the festival’s Facebook page.

While many pirate activities are for adults-only, the festival remains a family friendly event. As evidence of that, one of the most popular children’s activities – free pony rides – is returning this year. The rides will be held in a circus tent in the lot across from the police station.

The always-popular pirate bed races will be held on Saturday at 3 p.m., and attendees shouldn’t miss the final event of the festival: lobster crate racing. During the lobster crate race, participants attempt to sprint across a series of lobster crates strung together over the Passamaquoddy Bay. At the end of the crates waits a flag with which the triumphant pirate will return. Every year, lots of contestants make the attempt to secure the flag, though typically only one returns with it while the rest wind up in the cold waters of the bay. 

Aside from the plethora of activities – and there are many, many more – perhaps the greatest joy of the pirate festival is participating in it oneself. “The most exciting thing about the festival is that ninety percent of the attendees dress as pirates,” Giard said. “It’s amazing how many people from the community and from away get together and celebrate being kind of zany and playing the part of being a different character for a day.”

This year’s festival runs from Friday, September 8th through Sunday, September 11th. If you can’t wait that long to get your pirate fix, head to either Eastport or Lubec on September 2nd to participate in the “pirate invasion of Lubec”. It launches from Eastport at 9:00 and takes place in Lubec from 9:30 to 1:00.