November 24, 2014

Swab the deck and man the helms; Pirate Festival coming back to town

August 1 from 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

By John Fischer|Staff Writer
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AuGRES — Quickly becoming one of the most popular and fastest growing attractions in Arenac County, the Pirate Festival is sailing back into town at the AuGres State Park on Aug. 1 for a day of scallywags, beer, boats, racing and fun.

According to Robyn Walker of the Riff Raff Crew — the committee that operates the festival — the third annual Pirate Festival will feature the popular homemade river raft race, a beer tent, live entertainment — two live bands, including the AuGres Jazz Band — kids’ games and more, such as the dunk tank and the rubber duck race. She also says a new act has been added to the events this year.

“Illusionist Jason Jewell will be there performing shows,” Walker said, adding some of the children’s free games have also been tweaked.

In addition, Walker says everyone’s favorite “real” pirates will be back.

“The Ring of Steel (pirate re-enactors) will be mingling and performing stage shows… they do primitive games too,” she said.

Walker, AuGres City Manager Pat Killingbeck and AuGres Chamber of Commerce President J.R. Stolt, say the festival is a huge draw for the city and provides an economic boost of sorts to the struggling tourist town.

“That’s the whole reason for doing this (festival),” Walker says. “With the Cruisers’ car show, that gives AuGres two weeks in a row of strong tourism. People are out there buying food, supplies, clothing… and visiting restaurants and gas stations… it’s (festival) helped tremendously in bringing people in.”

“It definitely [creates a buzz]. It attracts young families, kids love it, adults love the night and it’s on the water,” added AuGres City Manager Pat Killingbeck. “It’s great. … It brings a lot of people to the area.”

“The tourism is excellent,” Stolt said. “There’s been a great turnout the first two years. All the businesses in town love it, and people talk about it all year.”

Walker says she expects around 3,000 people to attend this year’s buccaneer bash.

Killingbeck says while the city is very limited in its affairs leading up to and during the festival — which comes mostly in the form of making the city presentable and city staffers volunteering their time — she’s impressed with the Riff Raft Crew and the great job they do in hosting the event.

“It’s a group of younger adults planning and putting on the festival… they have excellent organization,” she said.

Stolt says many businesses in AuGres provide volunteers for the event, although, it is self-sufficient financially as well as a very inexpensive day of fun for the family.

“Where else can you take the kids for $5 per person?” Stolt asked. “A lot of the businesses help out but it does well.”

He added the chamber sponsors the duck race, which is somewhat of a tradition dating back to the old Venetian Festival.

“They used to have the race at the Venetian Festival,” Stolt said. “It hasn’t been around though [for around 15 years], so we brought the race here.”

Walker says the festival actually begins at 9 a.m. at the AuGres-Sims High School for the Run/Walk before transferring over to its AuGres State Park location.

“Admission is $5, and five and under get in free,” Walker said. “It’s a good day for family and a good time overall.”

“If you’ve been there (festival), you know it’s worth it,” Stolt said.

Schedule of Events 2009

9 a.m. - Scallywag Run/Walk

11 a.m. - Festival Grounds Open

11 a.m. - 3 p.m. - WKJC Live Radio Broadcast

11 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Kids Games (some free)

11 a.m. - 9 p.m. - Food & Merchant Vendors

11 a.m. - 6 p.m. - Ring of Steel - Real Pirates!

11 a.m. - 6 p.m. - Davy Jones Dunk Tank

Noon - Beer Tent OPEN

Noon - Homemade River Raft Race

2 - 4 p.m. - AGS Jazz Band

3 p.m. - Kids Costume Contest

4 p.m. - AuGres Chamber Duck Race

4:30 - 5:30 p.m. - Fresh Water Drum presented by Town & Country Lounge

6 - 10 p.m. - Wild Hair presented by Saganing Eagles Landing Casino

8 p.m. - Adult Costume Contest

11 p.m. - Festival Grounds CLOSE

For more information, including river raft race and sponsor applications, visit www.augrespiratefestival.org.

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