Featuring over 500 costumed actors, artisans and musicians, the Northern California Pirate Festival is the largest pirate festival in the United States. Produced by a group of theatrical and outdoor event professionals, this annual fest is equal parts Mardi Gras, state fair, living history, and Peg-legged eye-patch-wearin’ fan fest that appeals to children and adults alike. With multiple stages of continuous entertainment, rows of nautically inspired handcrafted goods, gourmet foods, micro-brewed beers, and ship to shore cannon battles, visitors might encounter pirates, proper British Naval Officers, alluring mythical mermaids and more! Our mission is to entertain and engage anyone with a love of all things pirate, and all are encouraged to join in the fun!
Beginning in 2007, we had no idea what to expect for attendance. The largest festival held on the Vallejo Waterfront in recent memory boasted 5000 in attendance for the weekend. So that was the plan. Yet at 2 pm on Saturday June 16th, 2007 we counted 12,000 people through the gates. It was the start of an amazing event, built by pirate lovers and maintained by people who donated what they could to attend.
We have had a fantastic ride for the last 6 years. The producers of the fest have been pleased to arrange visits from movie pirates, capture a giant squid for the kids to play on, lure illusive mermaids from the depths to be seen by all, and have even wrangled over 2000 costumed and boisterous buccaneers into one space for an attempt at a world record. The best is yet to come me hearties... that is with your help.
Partly due to a downturn in the economy which happened around year three, we have not been able to add money to the budget to include improvements that we have been wanting to make. We thought of moving the event to a more temperate area where the lack of shade would not be an issue, but in the end, we all agreed that Vallejo was still the best place for us overall. However, 2013 will be a year of great change for this event.
The contributions from the donation chests have just not been enough to cover our costs. Last year was a deciding factor for us. We need to make necessary improvements, but there is no money to do so.
In 2012, the temperature on Saturday rose to 1000° (well, over 100 degrees- but it FELT like a thousand), sending many patrons home and deterring others from coming on Sunday. Patronage was down 40%, and the donation chests were more empty than full.
Because of these circumstances we will be charging a modest gate fee for the first time ever. Tickets will be $10 at the gate, with children 11 and under free. We will also be giving people multiple opportunities to purchase discounted tickets, thorough coupons, advanced sales and... this Kickstarter campaign! This will allow us to bring important improvements in the years that are --hopefully-- to come.
We've received a lot of feedback over the years; people say we have a great festival but "You need more shade!". If we had been able to incorporate shade last year, the unprecedented heat might have had less of an effect. We wish we could have been able to bring in shade. We know how much more enjoyable it would be if everyone were not melting in the sun. As it is, we budget all the way down to the cent to bring the Festival to life in its current incarnation. There is simply no budget for the improvements that our patrons have asked for.
Plus We have been wanting to add more entertainment and decorations
In 2013, of course we want to offer all the amenities that everyone has been asking for; shade, more seating, shade, did we mention shade? But we also have grand plans! The city of Vallejo has made improvements to the festival site which will allow us to create an improved layout. The actual event space will be bigger, allowing us to pack in more entertainment, kids attractions, shows, and environmental areas.
Here's the kicker-Once we have shade we will be able to expand the festival in an exciting new way: The Buccaneers Bash!
How about a raucous new event that takes place after festival hours for adults only! We have on the line Pirate Rock Bands and Burlesque acts willing to bring down the house in the after hours at the Vallejo Waterfront! We'll need the cash to create an all new environment within the structure bring in other entertainers and of course food and drink! We are very excited about this after party, we have been wanting to bring it to you pirate lovin' hoards for some time now.
Next, once we have created the greatest pirate jam in all of history, we'll set to work on revamping the cannon battle. If black powder guns and showmanship have made your little blackened hearts soar before think of what blowing things up will do! We want to bring in the best stunt fight directors, sound equipment and pyrotechnics experts that your money can buy so that our newly scripted show can literally blow you away!
Last year the addition of mermaids in their own lagoon was exciting, but they were difficult to see swimming in a tank with opaque sides. We have plans to create the ultimate mermaid experience. Imagine walking through a pirate paradise, grog in hand when your pirate princess pulls you in the direction of a clear mermaid tank! She can see in, speak to and take photos with a honest to grog Mermaid! You can't just buy these things, one will have to be made and we have the designs to do so!
- And finally, wine, grog and beer aside what does a seaman look forward to after long days at sea? (Not that, the other thing) RUM! We are designing a dedicated bar for the tasting and distribution of fine rums!
So what's with this Kickstarter?
We went from barely breaking even to a serious loss. This year we are returning with a deficit, which means that we don't have the budget for any improvements and we want to expand. We want our guests to be safe and able to enjoy the Pirate Festival. If we are not able to make these improvements, we cannot continue this wonderful event in the future.
We are here to ask for your support. We have been putting this event on for you for 6 years, and we hope to be able to do so for many more years to come. We need a minimum of $15,000 in order to start bringing you all the changes that you want for this festival. We are starting with shade and a killer New Pirate Event that comes with it, then we'll add more as budget allows. Shade, The Buccaneers Bash, attractions, entertainment, improvements to the Cannon Battle, a Mermaid tank...and more. We have priced it out and $50,000.00 gets you your dream festival. Please help us, we love this event. We don't want to see it go.
Update April 24th 2013:
Jacket Art- Here is the Art you have all been waiting for! A t-shirt shows support- a zippered hoodie shows that you are really into pirates but this CUSTOM Jacket with Black leather sleeves and black wool will hold this amazing design and whatever name you wish: Showing ultimate Pirate love for the Fest! Only available to a select few during this campaign, we give you:
Update April 23, 2013:
"I Support Piracy" T-Shirt design!
This piratical T sports a plethora of piratical platitudes on the back as well as our festival jolly roger logo. Don't forget to tell your friends that the t-shirt comes with two free tickets which is an awesome deal since the tickets cost $10 each at the gate or $7 each online after this kickstarter campaign ends.
Update April 21, 2013:
Only $5000 to go!
We have made it past $10,000 and still have 10 more days! With your help we'll blow past the $15,000 mark, we'll have shade and the ultimate pirate party and move on to developing the rum bar and Mermaid tank! We have also been talking to our Effects specialists and the Cannon Battle will be getting an upgrade no matter what! However if you want actual explosion effects we need to keep pushing forwards! Thank you everyone!
Update April 18th, 2013: Almost Halfway there!
Almost halfway there and only 13 days to go! Thanks to everyone who has pledged so far. We put this event on for the love of piracy and we hope that we can do so for years to come. Exciting news: We will be unfurling the designs for the Kickstarter Support Merchandise starting today! The art is rolling out thanks to our designer Steve Morales and we will be releasing them as they come. Keep a weather eye mates! Here is the design for the Support Hoodie, if you find yourself drawn to this as much as I am and want to add it to your pledge all you have to do is cancel your current order and then re-pledge with the correct amount. Make sure to tick off all the support levels that you want!:
Update April 9, 2013:$10,000 to go!
This is exciting people! We are grateful to have so much support, but we have a ways to go. Keep spreading the word, and keep a look out, we will be posting mock ups of the pirate swag in each level soon!
Risks and challenges
We don't anticipate any problems regarding the actual festival. This event has a proven track record and is in a community that has shown a outpouring of support for us pirates and our wee celebration. Once our event is funded to $15,000 we can guarantee a structure that will shade a great portion of the event as well as host the Buccaneers Bash! Yes, that is the cost of only the shade rental. Shade is pricey and a tent trade or sponsorship is nearly impossible during the busiest season of the year. The structure is already on hold and all we need is the money to pay for it.
After that, the more you give the better the show will be. The Cannon battle effects, Rum Bar, even the improved decorations and atmosphere will cost money.
Rewards will be sent once the items have been created. The people who have become the newest members of the Plank Owner club should sign up for the Plank Owner club newsletter to learn all about when packets are sent out. You can do this at www.plankownersclub.com. We are really excited to bring you all the improvements we've thought up. We are already thankful for all of your pirate patronage. We can't do this without you!
- (30 days)