Calling all swashbucklers! (Landlubbers are welcome, too.) It's time for eight annual Tybee Island Pirate Fest.
Festivities kick off Oct. 10 with the annual Buccaneer Ball and will carry through to Oct. 13, with a weekend full of pirate-themed beachside events, costume contests and concerts.
The annual festival parade takes place at 3 p.m. Oct. 12, and the rest of the day is jam-packed with concerts from local favorites to headliner Shooter Jennings.
According to event chairman Steve Kellam, this year's event is bigger than last year's and offers a little something for everybody. His group, South End Association of Bars and Restaurants (SEABAR), is the event sponsor for the first time this year, and they're ready to prove they have what it takes to put on a stellar Pirate Fest.
"We just felt it was time to start an association to do events for Tybee Island," Kellam said. "We've all been involved with Pirate Fest for many years, so this is not exactly new for us."
Kellam said there are more concerts this year and two nights of fireworks, a free shuttle will run from the north end of Tybee to the south during event hours with eight stops in between, and the children's area is expanded with a carousel and a full-size Ferris wheel.
"It's hard to keep up with everything we have going on during the festival," he said.
Another annual event that goes hand in hand with the festival is the crowning of the Pirate Fest King and Queen. Each year, past kings and queens choose two people from the community who embody community involvement and the spirit of the festival to serve these royal roles.
Retired school teacher and current city council member Wanda Doyle will serve as this year's Pirate Fest Queen.
"I just want to tell the people that chose us, it's an honor to represent my city at Pirate Fest," Doyle said. "I'm really excited about it. I hope we'll get a good crowd. I'm praying for good weather that weekend."
Keith Gay was named Pirate Fest King, and their coronation will take place during the Buccaneer Ball on Oct. 10 at the Crab Shack. The Buccaneer Ball will also feature a new treasure hunt and caricature artist this year.
"It's going to be fun. I'll be given a sash and I get to be in the parade, too," Doyle said.
While she's looking forward to following through on her royal duties, she is mostly excited to share this event with her family.
"I love to see the children's events at Pirate Fest," she said. "My goal has always been to make it as family-friendly as we can. I want it to be family focused. I have two grandchildren. They are 10 and 7 years old, and I want them to have fun.
"They love going. Their favorite thing is the petting zoo, and they are bringing that back this year. And they added the Ferris wheel, too. And we'll have two nights of fireworks this year, too. I'm excited."