Marden Park a few kilometres north of Guelph has been transformed into a pirate village this weekend.
Yes, there is treasure, and there are swords and skulls. There’s theatre involving mud, a huge inflatable pirate ship, and fair maidens perfuming the air.
The Milton Pirate Festival, an annual event for about a decade, has moved to Guelph-Eramosa. Event organizer Antonio DeCoppi, dressed full-pirate, said he was intrigued by the Marden Park space, which is sprawling, quaint, and rustic.
“Many were sad to see us leaving Milton, but just as many are happy to see us coming to Guelph,” he said. “It was a big risk, but right now it seems like it has paid off.”
There is live music throughout each of the three days of the festival, which continues Sunday and Monday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Children under five are admitted free, children and seniors are $10, and adults $15.
Take Highway 6 north out of the city from about four kilometres, turn left on Marden and look for the signs. Or take Silvercreek Parkway out of the city to Marden Road, and turn right.
The event was originally inspired by a resurgence of interest in pirates, much of that spurred by the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, DeCoppi indicated. He said an older festival in Milton dedicated to the Renaissance would always attract a group of pirate fans, despite being historically inconsistent. Pirates came a couple of centuries after the Renaissance.
The Pirate Festival grew out of the Renaissance Festival, and it just continued to thrive,” he said.
One highlight of the event is that pirate characters in elaborate period costumes mill about the venue engaging visitors and speaking only in the pirate dialect. Among those are characters like Zephira Culigary, the apothecary, and Anne Wellington, the perfumist, who scents the air.
“Because the air downwind of these pirates can be quite foul,” she said.
Attendance was rather sparse on the morning of Day 1, but the crowd began to grow in the early afternoon.
The event has a lot of activities for children, including games, the pirate bouncy ship, and archery. A pair of dragons are lumbering around the grounds.
Live theatre by the mud people drew a large crowd, and is a main attraction. There’s magic, juggling, and a host of vendors selling trinkets.