Library's pirate week starts with a bang

The boom of a pirate cannon and a taste of pirate cuisine greeted visitors during the opening night of the Michigan Pirate Festival. Monday night's Loutit District Library program included an arms demonstration at Grand Haven's Central Park - where small pistols, as well as a cannon, were fired. Austin Durham, a re-enactor from Niles who goes by the pirate Hookah Joe, said he enjoys going out to the public to demonstrate vintage firearms and weaponry.
Alex Doty
Aug 9, 2011

“I love it. I’ve been doing it for years,” Durham said. “I am in the Marine Corps, so I have always been real big on firing weapons.”

Durham said this marks his sixth year as a pirate re-enactor and his fourth year with experience doing black-powder weapon demonstrations.

Grand Haven residents Madelaine Rogers and Hannah Fidelman said the primary reason they turned out to the library and Central Park on Monday night was for the weapons demonstrations.

“It was pretty awesome,” Rogers said.

The two said they both enjoyed the firing of the cannon, though they are somewhat interested in pirates, and this was the first time they had attended the library’s pirate activities or the Pirate Festival.

To see more photos from Monday's events, click here.

According to Durham, the weaponry demonstrations have a way of pulling people in and drawing their attention.

“It’s like fireworks,” Durham said, “only you’re right there next to them when they go off. (People) love the boom, they like the smoke and they like the fire — and I think that’s what brings them in.”

Seeing an actual cannon being shot is a different experience than seeing a rifle or handgun fired, he added. “It’s kind of recreating history for them,” Durham said.

Following the loud explosions in Central Park, the festivities moved inside the library, where a “Meet the Pirates” event took place. People sampled pirate food and took part in other activities.

Larry Halverson, Loutit District Library’s public relations coordinator, said the meet-and-greet was a way for people to get one-on-one time with pirates.

“This pirate meet-and-greet has really turned out to be bigger than what I anticipated, and we have a really nice crowd in there,” he said.

The week-long slate of events continues today. The week includes children’s activities, adult discussions and a sail-in along the waterfront at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

“The sail-in is always the favorite,” Halverson said. “We’re going to use a lot of black powder for the sail-in,”

For a complete schedule of events for the remainder of the week, click here.

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