By Tim Collins
It’s quite natural that, when we think of Esquimalt Buccaneer Days, what comes to mind are images of stomach wrenching midway rides, colourful parade floats and everyday folks of all ages suddenly transformed into pirates by virtue of eye patches, 16th century clothing, tri-cornered hats, and plastic swords.
It is, after all, an event celebrating the nautical history of Esquimalt and, although we don’t know for certain that Sir Francis Drake ever ran a Spanish galleon onto the rocks off Esquimalt’s shores, we do know that he sailed these waters, pirating any Spanish vessel he could lay his hands on. And he wasn’t the only pirate in those waters. History is replete with other scoundrels preying on passing mariners.
But as much as that image of Buccaneer Days is fun and romantic, some of the most attractive treasures of the celebration have little to do with hooks, pirate flags, or cutlasses. Instead, they can be found at the other events that form an important part of the celebration.
The annual marketplace, held in the Esquimalt Recreation Centre, is a prime example. Organizer Irene Coell described the marketplace as a spectacular display of local artisans, vendors, non-profit organizations, and others with no discernable connection to piracy.
“We’ve got 38 artisans coming this year, all of them offering locally made art and crafts. These are treasures you won’t see in the average stores…unique and beautiful items made right here in the community,” she said.
In addition, there are a number of tables with home baked goods, plants, and more, all falling in line with the market place’s theme of “You make it, you bake it, you grow it” said Coell.
As well as the items for sale, the marketplace provides the public a chance to connect with local organizations and service groups like the model train societies that assemble intricate displays of model trains for the enjoyment of buccaneers of all ages.
Another prime attraction of the event is sure to please the children when the “pirates den” welcomes the little pirates to bouncy castles, craft tables, scavenger hunts, button makers, and (temporary) tattoos. The Pirate’s Den runs from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 13 at Bullen Park and although the name may imply a pirate theme, you may be just as likely to find fairy princesses at the craft table as pirates.
“We offer the kids the Pirate’s Den as an option to the midway and it’s hugely popular,” said Todd Boothroyd, event organizer. “We get about 1,500 children through here every year. For the little guys, this is the highlight of the event.
Esquimalt Buccaneer days are held from May 11 to 14 and activities are centred on the Esquimalt Recreation Centre.