Some Brief Words about PyrateCon

There’s a whole lot of gossip floating around the web right now about PyrateCon. Most of it consists of either vague allegations based on “inside information” or long winded tirades that have little to do with anything the general public needs or wants to know.

Since returning from PyrateCon 08 I’ve been torn between whether I should publicly share my thoughts, or quietly “wait and see” what occurs on its own. But I get asked, and then asked again what my thoughts are on PyrateCon, and so I think it’s time to just throw some things out there. So here are some facts. No inside information, just the publicly available truth:

PyrateCon 2008 was imperfectly orchestrated. The banquet was overcrowded and did not feature nearly the spread of food promised. The official program in Pyrates Way Magazine listed at least one major event (the Interactive Movie) that didn’t occur, as well as an entire Voudou Lounge area that didn’t exist. In an error repeated from PyrateCon 2007, a significant chunk of vendors were overly separated from the main vending room. Evening events were open to the non-paying public, and the Pirate and Wench of the Year Contests were dominated by official entertainers, judges, and VIPs – all of whom should have been ineligible for such a contest. All of these concerns have been expressed by attendees throughout various online forums, but to my knowledge the PyrateCon staff has not yet publicly acknowledged them, nor offered any reassurance that they won’t happen again.

All this said, more went right than went wrong. The evening events – overcrowded though they were – did occur. The vending rooms were great fun to visit, and *most* of the presentations went on as scheduled. But most important of all, PyrateCon served as a reason for pirates to gather in New Orleans, which is the true strength of this convention. Even if you’re not interested in attending seminars or vendor rooms, the opportunity to wander Bourbon Street in a frock and tricorn, drinking rum all day long and then plopping into a seat at the Pirate’s Alley Café to wile away the remaining hours with like-minded souls is a rare and incredible treat.

So where do things stand? Rumors abound of lawsuits, PyrateCon Staff turmoil, mismanagement, etc. And personally, as an attendee, I don’t really care. Those with a financial stake in the matter can (and should) investigate matters and do whatever’s in their best interest. But I plan to be in New Orleans the weekend of PyrateCon – regardless of the actual fate of the festival. I hope PyrateCon succeeds – like many, I *want* there to be one event where we aren’t expected to be performers or educators – where we’re free to just be ourselves while dressing, drinking, and acting like pirates. But regardless of whether PyrateCon pulls itself together, so long as there are pirates aplenty in the French Quarter, it will remain an event worth attending.

Comments (25)

  1. Machete Betty

    Thank you, Bilgemunky for voicing your concerns about PyrateCon and the rumors floating around. Spare me a moment and I can put those rumors and other issues to their grave.
    PyrateCon 2007 and 2008 was riddled with situations. These situations came about when a staff speckled with self serving pirates took on the job of event coordination with their only experience at that job being as a paid performer. When various usual complications arose in the logistical planning and execution of these events like the Interactive and the Feast, these staff members basically stepped to the side and let all the problems hit the chief executive of PyrateCon square in the chest. Some events went off grandly, some not so grand, and some had to be dropped entirely, like the Interactive. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes steps to hold something like an Interactive, and when a group of people just want to show up and perform but are not willing to help with the logistical planning, the liability insurance issues, the permits, etc… then the to-do list grows beyond what one man ca n do.
    This year we have a staff of people who truly want the success of a national pirate event far above blatant self promotion, and in that we did lose a bit of a national mouth-piece in a particular pirate magazine with free article and ad space. This was the pirate responsible for what the Pirate and Wench of the Year event turned into, and also the later horrible online bashing of the people of New Orleans, resulting in a complete restructuring of the Pyratecon staff and how PyrateCon gets information out to the piratical public. Getting all the new crew members up to speed has taken a little bit of time.
    Also, let me remind those who may have already forgotten that although New Orleans did not get as intense a hit this year with Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, there were evacuations, some damage, and resulting delays in being able to meet with the participating businesses in New Orleans, as all involved found it would have been in bad taste to insist that we hit our usual deadlines while people there were more concerned with real life emergencies.
    PyrateCon is continuing to grow and expand into a more enriching event for both visiting attendees and for the city of New Orleans. More hotels, more vendor rooms, more local participation and more variety of entertainment is our goal for 2009. We have nearly the same rates for hotels as last year which is a remarkable feat during this economy, as well as huge room discounts for attendees at one of New Orleans Finest hotels right on Bourbon St. the Bourbon Orleans which is graciously allowing the taking-over of their downstairs bar that opens up directly onto Bourbon St. and the temporary renaming to the PyrateCon Pub.
    Some minor delay was seen as we were working to anchor a unique outdoor experience for locals and attendees which was unable to be accomplished due to hundred-year-old rules regarding public spaces in New Orleans. Instead there will be a massive print campaign within the French Quarter directing attendees and the public to what will be several vendor rooms in several locations circling the French quarter with no one main room like traditional cons.
    It’s important to remember that PyrateCon is hoping to become a very unique event that is not a “Con” as you know it, and not a pirate festival, but something unique, and you cannot place the same rules and expectations of a typical “con”. We are pleased to be able to update the website tonight with our entertainment line-up. We are also thrilled that the first block of discounted hotel rooms has been sold-out and the hotel is currently going through the approval process for more discounted rooms. My advise is to not delay too long worrying about the past, and dive into the fray, pistols ablaze ready to Raid Jean LaFitte’s Stronghold the first weekend of April 2009.

  2. The Quartermaster

    A comment longer then a review? YAAAAAAAR! So much impartial.

  3. R. Scott Rogers

    Aye! TLDR

  4. Oderlesseye

    “I hope PyrateCon succeeds – like many, I *want* there to be one event where we aren’t expected to be performers or educators – where we’re free to just be ourselves while dressing, drinking, and acting like pirates.”

    This I whole heartedly agree..this years faire season has been the busiest and somewhat demanding in some cases..PirateCon for me was the place to relax, have fun and enjoy.. Unfortunately It was an experience never to be topped so I be lookin for other adventures.. Perhaps PIP .. But then again Eye can still be persuaded …LoL…

  5. Blackbead

    Ahoy, mates!

    I am but a humble merchant who has enjoyed setting up his pirate’s market each year so far at this, what has been for me, glorious event! I agree that there have been issues; I agree that some of the things that have been planned have not come off the way that they were supposed to; I agree that there have been people involved with this event that have lied to me, stolen money from me, and done things that probably will cause me never to trust them again. BUT, the issue that concerns me personally right now is all of these folks who are saying, “Well, I’m coming, but I don’t intend on paying to get into the vendors room.” That being the case, why should I pay a registration fee and set up my market? Whay should ANY vendor do so? And without vendors or paying attendees, how are the folks who are putting this thing on supposed to be able to pay for the event? In short, why don’t all of us just set a date and meet in New Orleans? Forget the stars and the vendors and the events . . . okay, I’m taking liberties with some hyberbole here, but you get me drift. IS anyone actually going to the event? Or is everyone, like Oderlessye, looking for new horizons to conquer? If so, I am not going to spend the $$$ to come out and sit alone in the vendor’s room . . .

    What say ye?

    Blackbead

  6. Scarlett Harlott

    I, like you, Bilgemunky agree wholeheartedly on this matter. For some reason, being cooped up in a hotel con room all day is not my idea of fun when you have pirate garb on and the beautiful and historically-rich City of New Orleans is OUTSIDE waiting! Personally, I would love just a pirate festival held OUTDOORS with a pirate history tour and pub crawl and piratical vendors! I plan to go and NOT be a part of the “con” but to enjoy the city with my good friends and other pirates from around the country that happen to be there at that time, too! Sans the stuffy con rooms! Most of all, I look forward to seeing YOU again, Bilgemunky! XOXOXOX

  7. Blackbead

    And now it appears that the locals have decided that they want to take over the foundations that PyrateCon has laid – see http://www.pyrateweek.com. So much for PyrateCon . . .

  8. Lady J.J.

    Thank the stars!
    I attended Pyratecon08. It was my maiden journey into the world of Pirate festivals. Yes, my husband & myself were virgins or “Polyester Pirates” of the finest quality! We’d been to many a faire, taken many Pirate themed excursions, and the like. But NOTHING prepared us for the time we had in NOLA. We met many of the players I have seen comment on the “Con” & all the related sites. To Linda & Louie, Vlad, and all the rest of you we shared some great moments with, I thank you. We were truly turned into different people that weekend. I got off the plane in NOLA as Jenny, Pirate wanna-be & thought-I-was. This Magical city, filled with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, is something that can’t be missed. I even saw a ghost! Really. I even got a photo to prove it! This place Rocks literally, and figuratively. When I got (too much drink dragged) myself back to the airport to return home, I even had a new name. J.J.
    To any one that may read this: Don’t miss this weekend! Or week. Pyratecon or Pyrateweek. Py or Pi! I will get the room, & I’ll buy the airfare, but I think I’ll wait a little while on show tickets… see what changes come up!!!???
    Thank you again Bilgemunky for speaking out about the NOLA 09 Pirate festival, whatever it’s called. We need someone to wade through the muck of politics for the “New-Pyrate” No
    more “Polyester Pirate” here. We’re goin’ “New”

  9. Blackbead

    Notice:

    My name was put on the vendor’s list of Pyrateweek without my permission and I have asked that it be removed, immediately. I wrote them a one sentence email asking if they were going to limit vendors to local merchants and they put my name on their list without ANY indication from me that I was going to be involved.

    I do NOT intend to be involved with Pyrateweek in any way.

    Steve Sanders

  10. mike valentino

    Being a native of New Orleans it saddens me to have caught some of the negative press that the con has gotten. I missed the 2008 event but I am planning to attend in 2009. We have a rich city steeped in lore so I do so hope that the con gets on the right track and becomes a hit. I agree with everyone who posted. We gentlemen and ladies of fortune need an event such as this where we can be ourselves with like minded folks.

  11. Brahm

    I had a great time at the first convention in 2007, knowing well that it was a new edeavor and wouldn’t be perfect. . Regardless, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet pirate enthusiasts, historians, performers and authors. Aside from the occasional hitch here and there, I felt like the cost my plane ticket to NOLA and admission to the con was well justified. It was a memorable experinece, and I looked forward to April 2008.

    Thoug I’m not exactly ‘plugged in’ to the webrings or discussion forums, I managed to stumble across rumors on the internet about a power struggle in organizing the second annual Pyratecon, ironically when I was planning to book my trip. Sadly, these rumors were just enough to discourage me from returning in 2008. Looking at Bilgemunky’s report, I think I made the right decision. It was particularly distressing to hear that the movie night didn’t happen, as that was one of the highlights for me in 2007.

    I guess I’m just here to say that the publicity of these rumors and conflicts aren’t welcomed by impartial spectators such as myself. If anything, they have the capablility to discourage us from attending, and that’s pretty sad considering what some have or may be missing.

  12. KayakingBunnie

    I’m disappointed in PyrateCon. I attended the first year 2007. I had fun at the con but the follwing year when I wanted to attend the prices jumped dramatically. Not everything is included and now extra money is needed to goto certain events. I’m discouraged to go due to cost mostly.

    All events are always going to have drama. You deal, ignore and move on. Its as simple as that.

    At the first event I was at someone yelled at me for walking in front of their camera and were really nasty about it. I thought to myself f-u and moved on. Why start a fight because someone is being an ass. Its their problem not mine. Sure it ticked me off and there wasn’t room for anyone to move anywhere and people were getting in each others way but crap happens. They could of been nicer about it but choosed to be a jerk.

    See drama! But overall I still had a good time despite one person.

    As far as rumors, its just rumors. Some of it maybe true some not I personally don’t care. Money or lack of it discourages me from joining the festivities more then anything.

  13. Robin St Graves

    Ahoy Mates,
    I well imagine many of ye were waitin’ for Ol’ St Graves to chime in…
    NOLA Pyrate Week in New Orleans 2009 is a New Orleans based event. Many locals, establishments and Krewes had been wanting an opportunity to put on their own event and host Pyrate Week their own way. Well, now it’s happening.
    Having worked Festival, Faires and SCA events over the last 25 years, I have a good feel for what a Pyrate Gatherin’ should be about… and in this case, it’s the people of New Orleans who will be providing hospitality, showing off their city’s charm, culture and excitement that is New Orleans.
    Pyrate Week is not affiliated with PyrateCon in any way. As a Pyrate artisan merchant I did exhibit at both PyrateCon 2007 & 2008. Working a Con in a hotel is not really my idea of a great time. For both Cons 2007 and 2008, the biggest draw seemed to be the vendor rooms.
    As for the problems that seem to be popping up in all the blogs, if they were running a good program, then there’d be no need for discernation.
    Pyrate Week in New Orleans was concieved to raise awareness of the needs of the City, to help with rebuilding and restoration efforts through volunteer opportunities with the various charities.
    Since in conception there have been a great many people step up and offer to lend a hand in this great effort.
    Nine Days of Pyracy in the French Quarter while lending a hand where it’s wanted and needed. Works for me Mates!
    This promises to be the grandest pyrate meet-up in modern times.
    Check the web site for updates. Press releases are forthcoming.
    Be a part of this amazing event. We’re makin’ History Mates!

    See you in New Olreans! ~ March 28 thru April 5, 2009

    Robin St Graves
    http://www.pyrateweek.com

  14. Cranky Seawitch

    I could not disagree more.

    I don’t know all the details about this event, but the shitstorm itself is reason enough to stay FAR away from it!

    Quit rewarding people who use others and behave badly by attending events they organize. I don’t need PyrateCon or any other event to make me a pyrate…

    maybe that’s because unlike the rest of the flag wavers, I’m NOT SELLING anything….

  15. Bilge (Post author)

    I don’t need PyrateCon to make me a pirate either, Cranky Seawitch. But I love spending a weekend in New Orleans with my mates – and I don’t see why any “shitstorm” should dissuade me from doing so. PyrateCon and Pyrate Week alike could close up shop tomorrow, but so long as there are pirates in the Quarter in April, I’ll be there too.

  16. Robin St Graves

    I just LOVE happy endings!

    Sail Far & Plunder Hard Mates!

    Robin St Graves
    http://www.pyrateweek.com

  17. Cranky Seawitch

    Some of us are a bit more choosey ’bout who we call “mates”, Mr. B.Monkey.

  18. Bilge (Post author)

    And some people are going far to out of their way to create a pirate civil war out of all this crap. I’m not a sponsor of PyrateCon nor Pyrate Week, and I endorse neither. I will be in New Orleans come April because yes, my “mates” will be there – mates who have no horse in this race, but are merely looking to enjoy each other’s company amidst some rum and pirates. I will choose to attend – or not – PyrateCon, Pyrate Week, and any third-party events on a case-by-case basis as they prove worth my time and money, and I won’t apologize for it.

  19. Cranky Seawitch

    Stay blind as old Pew then, it be yar soul.

  20. Bilge (Post author)

    Seawitch, your cryptic, judgemental comments are tedious and unhelpful. I’m at a loss of how to effectively respond because you offer nothing substantive to the conversation. Of course I’m well aware of the accusations regarding the PyrateCon staff – as is anyone who’s paying even a modicum of attention. But I’ve chosen to base my opinions only on first-hand information, meaning that which I personally experienced as an attendee. And it’s based on that standard that I will decide whether PyrateCon is worth attending in the future. By that same token, I would expect vendors to judge PyrateCon based on their experience as vendors, and speakers as speakers. If everyone keeps their eyes open, and avoids jumping bandwagons as the wind shifts, then I’m confident PyrateCon will thrive or perish on its own merits.

  21. Pirates Alley Trading Company

    Cant we all just get along? The potential for a great festival in a great city is going to be pissed away and squandered if everyone is not careful. The citizens of New Orleans will welcome any who choose to visit. I look forward to seeing all of you.

  22. The Quartermaster

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaar!

    I’m going regardless of what happened with the Con and I would suggest everyone to do so as well.

    The people make the gatherings and not the other way around.

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaar!

  23. Iron Tom

    Avast & Belay!
    Me home port is not called the Big Easy fer nuthin!
    Yer can’t complain with a mouthful of good food and rum. Come down & party with us Pyrates and the hell with everything else. See you there. Scarlett, Munky… Rum on me at Pirate’s Alley! Yo, Ho!

  24. mardi claw

    I live in New Orleans, and went to pyratecon and had a blast…. I was very disappointed later to see things written about my city that were uncalled for. These comments were exposed for what they were, and hence the war began. they weren’t necessarily comments from pyratecon, but then a whole bunch of “lawsuits” supposedly went down…. we here in New Orleans, don’t care about these lawsuits, but we’re tired of hearing about them….

    hence, the locals chimed in. pyrateweek was born. You see in New Orleans, for a “festival” to become HUGE, you need to get the locals to come forward.

    Jazz Fest, french quarter fest, satchmo fest and more, and of course mardi gras. To be in New Orleans, and to live in New Orleans, is to be in a place like no other… She is the jewel of the south, and she is very charming. When we who live here, hear folks diss us, we respond by welcoming you anyway, and making the experience even more… charming…

    I hope that this grows into something that can bring folks together, and drop the pyrate wars… We are New Orleans, and we are opening our doors to all. Pyrateweek will always be the last weekend of march through the first weekend of april… thats how we measure our fests… just like french quarter fest is mid month… we pulled back a month from jazz fest, when the weather is a little cooler, and you can wear your pyrate best and not sweat to death in them…!

    the vendor booths at the avenue pub were always open to all. We decided to bring in the st claude arts district…. Which is the newest art neighborhood since katrina. where all the grant money is going to rebuild. we support these new artists changing our city…

    The cost for the booth is only $50 for nine days. The money paid for the booths, is used for LOCAL advertising. Not for profit. the booths are open from 11 to 5 pm and we made sure not to book anything while these things are going on, with the exception of the block party for officer Tommy Felix’s family. when the arts markets friends will pull in, and set up on the block and add even more flair to the show!

    we picked LOCAL charities, picked by the local pyrate krewes, we picked our own Grand Marshall for our parade, and we welcome ALL to join us..

    we are not here to compete with pyratecon, but to bring this event into the entire city, and bring childrens events into it as well. We have a few of our kids doing the leukemia cup this year, and will be bringing pyrates into a regatta next year.

    So lets all take a deep breathe, and not continue to perpetuate this pyrate war… lets welcome all to new orleans….

    Let me just say, NOLA pyrateweek welcomes pyratecon, and all pyrate bretheren to New Orleans…! Lets have some fun, and drink some rum…

  25. Yellowbeard

    Aye , going to New Orleans and seein it all fer yerself is the best course of action fer all …there will be more than enough Pyraticalicious things to do fer everyone in the french Quarter that week…Me and me crew from pirateguildmedia.com , the Northern California Pyrate Coalition and the Pirates of Sacramento will be there for a week of debauchery . Thanks Bilgemunky ,Ye crystallized me thoughts eloquently on all the Con-Drama when ye said ,”I want there to be one event where we aren’t expected to be performers or educators – where we’re free to just be ourselves while dressing, drinking, and acting like pirates.”…well said man …well said..cheers YB…P^)>

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