Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NorCal Pirate Festival - Vallejo CA

I luv Pirates! And it’s another free event so it’s hard for me to not get excited. I’m a poor girl and it irks me no end that all the fun stuff costs what i pay for groceries for the week. So i can either have fun or i can eat. Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it? ;-)

But not only is the NorCal Pirate Festival a free event, but a really well-organized, “fun-ly-run,” decadently decorated, fantastic weekend of pirating. You’d have to be one grumpy sour-puss to not enjoy yourself. There’s something about pirates that just brings out the silly, fun-loving kid in me. Joie de vivre. It’s like Halloween in summer. If you’re too uptight to enjoy maybe you should get a Doctor to prescribe a bit of medicinal marijuana. OK. Well, maybe not. But with so many great props and backdrops, and folk decked out in nautical garb, it’s hard to resist the levity and good-natured, slap-stick humor. Rum all 'round!

And the fooooooood! Tender lamb and beef gyros; roasted turkey legs; tri-tip; fried artichokes stuffed with goats cheese; cheese blintz with raspberry sauce; tasty, England-style meat pies (and if anyone’s been to England you know if i say “tasty,” it’s been Americanized); and all sorts of scrumptious treats like roasted almonds; yummy soft pretzels; and my favorite – gourmet chocolate fondue over fruit. There was more that i can’t recall at the moment – but it all looked – and smelled – so good! I wanted to go both days just so i could sample more of the food. Oh and rum cakes, i really wanted one of those! Ah well – next year. And yes – for the less gastronomically adventurous, there were hamburgers, sandwiches, fries, and chips. But for me, i can get that any day. The NorCal Pirate Festival is a time to explore!

And explore i did – through every tent-filled shop of treasures. Spun glass the color or the Ocean. Delicate, hand-crafted jewelry fit for a queen or king. Shops with nothing but beautifully designed leather apparel. Call me weird, but i love the smell of leather; i stood in the middle of the tent and just – breathed! Swords, clothing, beads and baubles, it was all here and wonderfully displayed. Sorta like a Ren Faire but better. Then there were the entertainers which reminded me of old vaudeville. As much acting as singing. As much playing as laughing. It’s sometimes hard to tell who’s having more fun – the audience or the performers. When the musicians played, i couldn’t help myself but to sing along and not care one whit what anyone thought of it.

However, the best part of this festival is the people – the organizers, laborers, vendors, and entertainers. Yes, their costumes and site designs were great, their food fantastic, their goods beautiful, their entertainment fun. But it was their love for what they were doing, their sincerity in sharing this gift with everyone, that stood out and made the day. Their happiness was in the air; you could feel it. Wow. Imagine if DMV was run by this group.

Of course, how can you not love having fun? It was a party atmosphere. Pirates passed out “doubloons,” “Capt Jack Sparrow” fought off opponents, and mermaids swam through crowds of onlookers (OK – that was corny). There were all kinds of things for the kids – making nautical knots, magic shows, and sing-a-long sea shanties. The finale for the day was the battle between the “Red Coats” on land who fired their cannons at the attacking pirate ship, the Aldebaran. She’s a schooner with lovely lines and beautiful rust-red sails. The pirates tacked the boat back and forth along the waterfront, returning fire at the British navy. Great ending to a great day.

This is such a fun event, i wish it was twice a year. Oooo – they could hold another on Sept. 19th – on International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Ah-ha! Landlubbers be warned!

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