There was plenty of plundering and pillaging this weekend as pirates invaded the South Marina of Willard Bay for the first-ever annual Utah Pirate Festival.
“Everyone should be a pirate,” said Lora Harpster, a Salt Lake Community College psychology professor who works as a vendor at the event. Harpster loves the pirate festival because of the unique community of “aspiring pirates” it encourages. Giant ships and pirate-themed booths were set up next to the Bay, which is located around a half hour north of Weber State University.
Daring festival-goers climbed aboard a ship captained by the infamous Jack Sparrow. Visitors could also try out horseback riding or walk through a sprawling pirate market and a petting zoo. Food was a mart attraction of the festival and market.
Traveling through the market, visitors could stop at booths and find “pirate booty,” according to Harpster. She stocked her market tent with homemade and other unique pirate swag, such as daggers, treasure chests, and skull and bones-shaped soap.
The event was organized and run by Sue Bodily, who currently serves as CEO of the Utah Renaissance Festival, which sponsored the festival.
“Sue Bodily, the lady that put this together, has some great stuff here,” said vendor Wendy Madsen, who owns a shop called “Typsy Gypsies,” which mainly sells jewelry that Madsen makes. “I’m really impressed with what she’s done.”
Bodily says the main purpose of the fair was to entertain with, and educate about, pirates. Renaissance Fairs are traditionally set in Elizabethan England, but many off-shoot festivals have experimented with settings like the court of King Henry VIII, France, Viking feasts and, of course, pirates.
“This has been really a lot of fun,” Bodily said on Friday. “We’re bringing black powder tomorrow!”
Some lively entertainment was provided throughout the day by the treasure-stealing competition among three pirate crews played by actors. Bodily’s plans for next year are to expand the competition to include teams made up of Weber State University students, as well as student teams from other local universities like USU, SLCC, BYU and the U of U. Hopefully, according to Bodily, the teams will race for treasure out on sailboats.
“If the college kids are bored. . . you know homecomings’ big, but it’s not everybody’s cup of cocoa, let’s face it,” Bodily said. “If they want to do something different, or they’re history majors or theater majors, why not come down and get out on the water and have some fun and be on a pirate team?”
Zak Treasure, a personal trainer from Layton, attended the event.
“My favorite part of the festival was the attention to detail,” Treasure said. “I really felt like I was in the 1780’s. I also really loved the pirate ship with Jack Sparrow. We got to walk the plank, and it was a lot of fun.”
The Utah Pirate Fair’s proceeds go towards the non-profit pet rescue Pack ‘n Pounce, and also to Utah Parks.
For more information on becoming a vendor or being a part of the pirate crew, visit utahrenfest.com.