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Pirates run amok at Havre de Grace fest

The rain stayed away Saturday, as pirates flocked to the Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House's fifth Pirate Fest in Havre de Grace.

The annual event brought out many young buccaneers and their families to see battle reenactments hear pirate tales and learn a few tricks of the trade from experts.

Several tents were set up outside the museum, some selling goods, such as pirate flags and accessories, others with "pirates" who were taking a break from their plundering to educate the kids about pirate life.

Dave Morris, of Chester Township, Pa., sat under a shady tree as he smoked a pipe and enjoyed the day.

Morris, who also goes by Blackleg Davey, said he goes to these type of reenactment events a few times every year and "enjoys it immensely."

"I like to get suited up and show people what real pirates look like," he said.

Morris explained the difference between pirate styles he sees most often: authentic, those who sew their own clothes and carry real weapons; party, those who carry containers on their belt to hold liquor or the "Jack Sparrow types;" and fantasy pirates, who, Morris says, wear the vinyl costumes, bustiers and heavy makeup.

He explained that he bases his outfit on the period known as the golden age of pirates, which was between 1700 and 1720 and when notorious pirate Blackbeard roamed the seas.

"Once I started getting into this a couple years ago, reading books and researching, it just sucked me in," Morris said.

Kenny "Crimson" Miller manned a nearby table with naval weapons of the era.

The Elkridge resident, who is also a history buff, was teaching some youngsters about common weapons that would be found on a ship and how they were used.

He showed off a blunderbuss, Dutch for "thunder gun," which has a wide mouth and would be stuffed with nails, rocks, broken glass or anything a pirate could find to harm his enemy.

Miller also explained pirate fighting tactics.

He said a pirate would shoot his pistol, which could only hold one shot, dump it and then attack his counterpart with his cutlass.

Blackbeard, Miller said, would carry six pistols with him at a time.

The ship's flag was equally as important as the weapons the pirate carried.

"Their arsenal was intimidation," Miller said. "The black flag meant 'no mercy.'"

Several bands played sea shanties and period music to entertain attendees as they roamed the grounds.

Kingsville-based band Caydence performed under a tent, their sound made up of a violin, accordion and guitar.

Band Scales and Crosstones, from Silver Spring, also played throughout the day - in pirate garb, of course.

"For a small fest, it's amazingly put together," band member Darriel "Lefty" Day said.

"Everyone's really interactive," bandmate Maggie "Bess" Cason added.

It was the band's first time at the festival, even though they perform at other pirate events and renaissance festivals in the region.

Saber Tompson, the band's manager, said she really liked the different aspects of the festival.

"It's a really, really neat thing here," she said. She thought the authors of pirate-themed books were a nice touch to the events and loved that there was an expert who taught about the different edible plants that were around during the pirate golden age.

Encampment chairperson Terri Dezell welcomed guests as they entered the festival space.

"It's fantastic this year," Dezell said.

A pub crawl, which kicked off the weekend Friday night, "exceeded expectations," she said, with 150 people attending and giving local restaurants participating plenty of business.

Even participation in Saturday morning's 5K run grew significantly, Dezell said.

The first year, about 125 participated, last year had around 280 and this year there were 500 runners.

Even with those events, however, Dezell said "our reenactors are the core of the experience."

Saturday night's Pirate Gala, for which the set-up was taking place while the reenactors were busy nearby, was also expected to draw a big crowd.

Dezell said the event sold out earlier in the week and it would easily be "the best party in Havre de Grace during the summer."

Dezell said this year's festival wouldn't have happened "without the support of our community." She said they hope to "continue to involve the community more and more every year."

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