The 2022 Cape Cod Pirate Festival

Ho! Gather ‘round ye’ and I’ll tell ye a tale. Chris Schultz, his mother called ‘em when he was knee-high to a parrot. That’s the man who had an idea to batten down the hatches and bring pirate life to Cape Cod. After working for a better part of 20 years as a performer, manager, developer, agent, and director of the Florida Renaissance Festival, he began motivating businesses to run their work virtually when COVID started taking its toll. Chris started a specialized event planning company,  New Latitude Event Solutions, that focused on virtual events for small non-profits and small businesses, noting that many small businesses didn’t have the tools or resources to get the job done. “I kind of jumped in to help out,” he says. As in-person events began to return, friends and family began to encourage him to go back to his roots. “So I decided to launch the Cape Pirate Festival last year with about two months to plan it.” He goes on to say “It was a frenzy. And it was a ton of fun!” To say it was a great success is an understatement. About 2000 people attended the event by the end of the first week, and Chris knew that this was the beginning of an amazing thing. It seems that he was right!

Tickets to the event will shiver your timbers with Swashbuckling Adventures offering family-friendly fun with interactive fairy tale shows, storytelling, and original music calling to our inner Vikings, Celtics, sea-battled pirates, and wenches. Respectively. Each day of the 4-day event has a unique theme inviting guests to get into character and play along for an increasingly immersive experience. Whether you’re a sea-legged old salt or young-blooded landlubber, you are invited to dress and talk like a pirate, be an ambassador representing your own otherworldly realm, or enjoy a 4 Day Season Pass and get exclusive access to after-hours scallywaggin’, VIP booty, and bragging rights. Contests and prizes will be awarded for the best costumes, photos, and more!  Don’t have a costume? Avast ye! You can look in ye duffle come up with your own, or dig into your coffer to throw down a few doubloons to get yar’self the garb for the occasion. No need to pillage and plunder if you can’t find the perfect piece, as you’re sure to find last-minute costumes, jewelry, accessories, and souvenirs with an assortment of vendors that will be scattered across the grounds. So, pop on your peg leg, grab a parrot and your hearties, and join the fun!

Practice your song and dance, maties, because there’s a song around every corner. This year’s festival is packed full of local and national talent including the war pipes and drums band Cu Dubh, featuring TikTok sensation Ally the Piper, the exclusively assembled pirate-themed rock and roll band The Plankwalkers, and a locally homegrown group of Chauncey singers, the Whydah Washashores. “We have wonderful talent here on Cape,” Chris proudly exclaims. “We’ve got some of the best voices and performers on Cape Cod!”

If you’d like to splice the mainbrace at the pub, you’ll find it staffed by the Harlot Queens, who’ll be pouring and performing in a pirates-meet-coyote-ugly fashion. The 1000 Islands Pirate Society will launch a “stationary pub crawl” consisting of drinking games and traditional games, telling stories as they move from table to table interacting with the crowd. If pub life isn’t your bag, a wide variety of food will also be available from vendors at the festival.

“It’s a blast! It’s great for families.  It’s great for young couples and groups of friends who want to go out. There’s a little bit of everything.”

-Chris Shultz, Founder of the Cape Cod Pirate Festival

The 2nd Annual Cape Cod Pirate Fest will occur at the YARMOUTH FAIRGROUNDS located at 669 MA-28 in West Yarmouth for “two roguish weekends” June 4th & 5th and June 11th & 12th from 10:30 am – 6:30 pm.

This event is partially funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Doing the Steps: Edward Gorey and the Dance of Art

A centuries-old sea captain’s home in Yarmouth Port became the final dwelling place for a quirky, but reclusive artist when he moved from New York in the 80s. It was there that he spent his remaining 14 years of life with his curious assortments of oddities, over 26,000 books, and most importantly his “people” as he endearingly referred to them, his cats. Edward Gorey’s work as an author, illustrator, and designer spanned nearly 50 years, earning him a Tony Award for Best Costume Design for his work on the Broadway revival of Dracula, and a cult following for his exquisitely gothic style of illustration and macabre surrealism.

“I must say, I don’t always understand Ted’s books, but I do like them.”Edward Gorey’s mother, Helen

In 1953 Edward Gorey self-published his first book, The Unstrung Harp, thus beginning a cascade of literary nonsense with distinctive pen and ink lines depicting the delightfully dreadful in over a hundred more books, and by the time of his death, several more unpublished manuscripts stashed neatly, (and haphazardly), around his home. His work became the inspiration for Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline for which Gaiman lamented was written after Edwards’s death, thereby missing its chance for his illustration. Edward himself wrote his books using both his given name and its anagrams, such as Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, and D. Awdrey-Gore. As private as he was popular, Gorey preferred to avoid the spotlight. Very much an animal lover and advocate, he usually had up to 6 cats, the perfect number according to him. Before he died he established The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust to manage his legacy and estate, and to support his favorite animal welfare organizations locally and afar. The upstairs of the house continues to be occupied by cats, keeping the spirit of the home authentically charmed.

Today, 22 years after his death, The Edward Gorey House stands as an archive for his admired collections of rocks, trinkets, books, and the grotesque. Cheese graters are casually displayed with skulls. A preserved Belgian waffle and a mosaic of checks from his favorite dining spot, Jack’s Outback II, are framed together on the kitchen wall. Handmade puppets and dolls adorn the rooms and halls amongst his characters and illustrations. One hapless child’s legs and feet protrude from a rug. A collection of old matches is stacked on the mantle. A bottle of lye on the windowsill.

Past year’s exhibits have included He wrote it all down Zealously: Edward Gorey’s Interesting Lists in 2020, and Hapless Children: Drawings from Mr. Gorey’s Neighborhood in 2021. This year’s Exhibit is Doing the Steps: Edward Gorey and the Dance of Art, which shares with us the influence Edward’s passionate infatuation with the New York City Ballet had on his art and life.

 “Gorey once said that he could visualize that progression of ballets in his head, like a movie he could play forward or backward, decades of form and movement and story—literally, at his fingertips.”

The Edward Gorey House is open from early April through the end of December each year.

8 Strawberry Lane • Yarmouth Port, MA 02675

508-362-3909 • edwardgoreyhouse@verizon.net

Click here to see house visiting hours, tour times, and admission info. Reservations are encouraged due to limited capacity. Admission is free for members.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Another Cape Cod Spring Has Arrived

Finally. At long last the lingering, biting Cape Cod winter is breaking into Spring. The final crests of snow have melted away to reveal the stretch and yawn of the first crocuses, and the impatient shoots of eager daffodils. The Spring Peepers can be heard in the bogs and marshes, the Ospreys have returned to their platforms to nest, and the local gardeners have thumbs that are growing greener with each passing mild day. So many of us are itching to get outside and rake the leaves, amend our soils, and stock our greenhouses. Novice gardeners or those who are new to Cape have a lot of things to consider, especially with botanical projects that can take months of love and attention to detail before the gorgeous and often delicious payoff. Seasoned growers will advise utilizing native plants whenever possible, that are cold hardy and appreciative of our sandy soil and local pollinators, but even experienced gardeners will benefit from up-to-date information as standards and recommendations develop over time. C.L. Fornari is a gardening guru residing in Sandwich, co-host of Plantrama podcast, and author of several books about gardening on Cape Cod, and when asked to share her expertise she was happy to oblige.

When Fornari moved to the Cape in 1993 she was unable to find a book about Cape Cod gardening, so she wrote it herself. She has since written several books about gardening on Cape Cod, with her book Sand and Soil being the most recent. She goes on to explain how local gardening standards have changed significantly in the past 30ish years since her first Cape gardening book was published in the mid-90s. “The plants that we thought were great at that time have proven to be not so desirable. Some plants that were commonly sold at that time are now “banned in Boston” (and the rest of the Commonwealth) because they are invasive. And there are new pests, diseases, and plants that people should know about. It was for those reasons and more that I wrote a new book about Cape Cod gardening and didn’t just update the original one.”

Leave the Leaves?

While we may be ready to banish the leaf piles from our flowerbeds, Mother Nature has other ideas. The leaves that have been insulating our lawns and Spring bulbs all winter have also been providing shelter for overwintering bees and butterflies, and although the sight of tulip leaves peeking through the crisp remnants of fall is enough to have us reaching for the rake, we of course also want to be mindful of the sleepy pollinators who are about to once again embark upon the priceless work that our very existence depends on. What are we to do?

Fornari answers, “This question is a great example of how standard landscaping practices have changed in the past ten years, and how we’re all called to be more flexible in our thinking.  Back in the day, we did a “fall clean up” and a “spring cleanup.” All the leaves were removed in those clean-sweeps, and usually (horrors!) removed from the property. Now we know better about the value of leaves for plants and pollinators. But it’s not either or.” She tells us that although you’ll see posts talking about waiting to clean up a garden until temperatures are above 50, there is no hard science behind that number. “Homeowners need to know that it’s not all or nothing. You can remove some leaves anytime, take others out in May, and leave some in place as Nature intended.”

When it comes to amending soil, Fornari contends that we should never assume that our soil needs improving, pointing out the thousands of mosses, trees, and all the plants in between that thrive comfortably without help. She recommends grouping plants that we know have soil requirements, (using Hydrangeas as an example), in areas where we can amend the soil from the top-down, adding “Soil ‘improvement’ practices have changed in the past twenty years. We know now that tilling, digging, and replacing native soils should be avoided whenever possible.”

Gardens this time of year tend to be limited to early perennials including favorites like basket-of-gold and bleeding heart, so Fornari suggests adding pansies to your space for a burst of color and a touch of cheer.

The Green Spot Opens for Business

Pansies are what Jim Behnke, owner of The Green Spot Garden Center, says are his biggest seller this time of year. The 4 decades-old family-owned garden center opened for the season on March 21st and has a nursery and 2 greenhouses on-site in addition to a full line of annuals, perennials, roses, shrubs, and trees. Jim looks forward to seeing early patrons popping in for seed starters and specialty soils, and to check out the annual specials of things like Miracle Grow and Hollytone. They have onions and garlic in stock, followed soon by cold-loving plants like lettuce and broccoli, and a few weeks after that, potato seedlings. For those of us rushing to get started on our veggie gardens, Jim warns not so fast. “The biggest thing you have to pay attention to is weather,” he cautions, mentioning that it won’t be time to get many crops in the ground until up to May and June in some cases. “Sometimes you gotta pinch yourself and remember to be patient.”

The Green Spot is located at 1085 Route 28 in South Yarmouth and is open seven days a week from 9-5.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

When bush comes to shrub, try growing Cape-friendly blueberries

Where can you find a winter-hardy shrub that thrives in Yarmouth’s sandy soil; turns brilliant red in autumn; provides food for native songbirds; and fills the freezer with antioxidant-rich power food?

When bush comes to shrub, it’s hard to beat the humble blueberry.

Now that the spring gardening season has arrived on Cape Cod, it’s time to plant trees and shrubs, as well as vegetables and flowering plants. It’s also the best time to plant high-bush blueberries, allowing a full growing season during their first year in the landscape.

A lot of people are really looking to grow their own foods today, said Rose Grevelis, senior nursery associate at Agway of Cape Cod in South Dennis. Blueberries fit perfectly into that plan.

As they mature, high-bush blueberries provide an attractive border or screen for objects in the home landscape. And when bushes mature, they reward growers with a harvest of sweet-tart berries. Unlike evergreens, blueberries do lose their leaves in winter, but before that happens, the foliage turns a brilliant crimson.

Agway sells an assortment of blueberry bushes, Grevelis said, starting with one-gallon potted plants that will take about three years to begin producing a respectable harvest. To ensure their health and future productivity, she advises the following steps:

  • Choose several blueberry varieties for good pollination and berry production. If you have the space, grow two or more varieties of early, mid-season and late-fruiting blueberries. That way you can stretch your berry-picking time from late June through mid-September. Earliblue, Ivanhoe, Patriot and Blue Ray are early varieties; Berkeley, Bluecrop, Pioneer and Atlantic are mid-season varieties; and Jersey, Coville, Lateblue and Elliot are late-fruiting choices. Jersey is an especially popular choice for Cape Cod growers, Grevelis said.
  • Test your soil’s pH before planting. Blueberries love acidic soil – even more acidic than the natural conditions on Cape Cod. Chances are you’ll need to add some sulfur to raise the soil’s acidity (lowering the pH to between 4.1 and 5.0 on a scale where 7.0 is neutral). Don’t know how to test your soil’s pH? No worries. Agway of Cape Cod offers free pH testing.
  • Blueberries will tolerate some shade, but they grow strongest and provide the most fruit when grown in full sun (at least six hours per day).
  • Blueberries love water, but don’t perform well when their roots are soggy, so plant them in well-draining soil. That’s an easy task when you live on Cape Cod, where the sandy soil drains almost instantly. To retain some water and nutrients, dig your hole the same depth as the pot, but double or triple its width. Then add plenty of organic compost and mix it into the surrounding soil.
  • Space blueberry bushes at least 4-5 feet apart. This will allow stronger root growth as well as good air circulation, which helps prevent diseases. It will also leave you ample space to pick the berries once bushes mature.
  • One pest that sometimes attacks Cape Cod blueberry bushes is the winter moth, which varies in population from year to year. If you see a lot of beige, night-flying moths on warm nights between Thanksgiving and Christmas, chances are the tiny larvae will eat the blossoms and leaf-buds of your blueberry bushes come spring. Solution: Spray the bare branches, twigs and bark with a dormant oil in late winter. It will smother the eggs.
  • To protect your blueberry crop from catbirds, robins and other feathered friends, cover the bushes with netting. A tall cage made from lightweight deer fencing with steel electrical conduit for posts is a low-cost option. Drape plastic bird netting over the top during fruiting season and remove the top in winter.

Agway of Cape Cod will be one of the garden and landscaping companies participating in the spring Home, Garden and Lifestyle Show, set for May 16-17 at the Barnstable High School field house. Find more information on the show at the Hyannis Rotary Club website.

(Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce blogger Andy Tomolonis is a multimedia producer, award-winning journalist and author of Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space.)

Top 5 Best of Yarmouth: Walks & Hikes

Bud Carter Conservation area

Gray's Beach

Gray’s Beach

One of the best ways to appreciate the nature and history of Yarmouth is enjoying a walk down one of our historical lanes or hiking on one of our nature trails. On foot, you have the time to enjoy the natural beauty of the seashore, marshes, botanical trails, or the 18th and 19th century architecture of the sea captain’s homes and the churches that are linked to the founding of the town.

No matter the time of year, we all want to get outside and enjoy Cape Cod’s salty air with a nice walk. Lucky for us, Yarmouth has many beautiful hiking paths on Conservation Land, sidewalks for strolling, and a great stretch of shoreline for those seaside walks. Here are our favorites!

By Cindi Griffin, Cape Interactive Media

Botanical Trails

Botanical Trails

#1 The Botanical Trails at the Historical Society of Yarmouth

A favorite walk among residents of Yarmouth is hidden just behind the Yarmouth Port Post Office off of Route 6A. The Botanical Trails, or Nature Trails, of the Historical Society of Yarmouth, boast a nature lovers dream of plants and tree specimens that add a bit of variety to a traditional walk through the woods. If you’re a first timer, this is one walk worth taking with the Trail Map and Nature Trail Guide so you can see where you are, and know when to stop and look for notable flora, fauna and geological points of interest. You can pick up the guide at the gatehouse at the beginning of the trail and, no matter the time of year, it’s a good idea to apply your bug repellent. The trail winds around Miller Pond, one of Cape Cod’s many kettle ponds formed by glacial ice deposits, and has some variety of terrain that is great for sure-footed adults and older children.

At the end of the trail you’ll see the lovely little Kelley Chapel, a non-denominational chapel built in 1873 and donated to the Historical Society in 1960 when it was moved from the Georgetown area along Bass River in South Yarmouth. Kelley Chapel is available mid-spring through December for special events and weddings.

Gray's Beach

Gray’s Beach

#2 The Callery-Darling Conservation Trails at Gray’s Beach

The Callery-Darling trails that wind through the marshes of Yarmouth Port, have some of the best payoffs of any hike in the Mid-Cape area. Follow the trail that takes you through the Center Street Marshes (entrance located on west side of the road), and you’ll find a whimsical old fashioned swing, and a spectacular view of Barnstable’s Sandy Neck. On the east side, the trails wind through the Chase Garden Creek Marsh, with views overlooking the Grey’s Beach and Chapin Memorial Beach in Dennis. MAP/GUIDE.

Captains' Mile

Captains’ Mile

#3 The Captains’ Mile

Getting to know the historical significance of the Old King’s Highway and it’s early residents, with a nice stroll along the “Captains’ Mile” on Route 6A in Yarmouth Port. MAP/GUIDEThe black and gold relief carved plaques featuring a schooner ship signify each captain’s home on the Captains’ Mile, which are now mainly private residents. To see inside, visit the Captain Bangs Hallet House at 11 Strawberry Lane on the north side of the village green. If you’re into supernatural history, you can also download the Ghosts, Myths and Legends guide to accompany you on your tour. GUIDE.

#4 Old South Yarmouth and Bass River Village Walking Tour

On the south side of Yarmouth is another historical walking tour through Bass River Village. On top of the Greek Revival architecture we see so prominently on the north side, there are homes with charming Victorian and Italianate flourishes and a history in keeping with Yarmouth’s seafaring founders. MAP/GUIDE.

Crab Creek

Crab Creek

 

Bass River Beach

Bass River Beach

#5 South Shore Drive

One of the longest stretches of shoreline (about 1.3 miles) in Yarmouth runs from Bass River Beach (aka “Smuggler’s Beach”) along South Shore Drive to Thacher Park Beach. Lined with oceanfront hotels, beach cottages, private residences, public and resident-only beaches, South Shore Drive also has a sidewalk that’s perfect for walkers and joggers who want to take in the fresh ocean breeze. Those interested in a longer walk, can park at the Bass River Beach lot (see in season fees) and walk the beach, with several options to double-back and return up to the paved sidewalk via South Middle Beach, Parker’s River Beach, Seaview Beach or Thacher Park Beach, which is quite convenient since the beautiful soft sand of the Nantucket Sound beaches are a little more difficult for running and walking than you might expect. If you want an even longer walk, keep following the sidewalk past Bass River Beach down South Street, which also connects to Old Main Street. Along the way, you’ll enjoy seeing many beautiful homes, gardens and points of interest. If you work up an appetite, there’s a new gelateria, Caffe Gelato Bertini, next to the Great Island Bakery on South Street, and the Skipper Restaurant and Chowder House, which also serves ice cream, on South Shore Drive.

Things to do in Yarmouth, Cape Cod

There are plenty of “THINGS TO DO” to keep you busy here in Yarmouth and on Cape Cod!
Click the links below for a complete listing.

FREE ACTIVITIES in Yarmouth

From hiking trails to visiting cranberry bogs, Yarmouth has a variety of free activities to do. Browse our list of free activities in Yarmouth below.Free Activities in Yarmouth, MA

MUST-SEE PLACES in Yarmouth Cape Cod

Yarmouth boasts many historic and scenic attractions. Checkout our list of must-see places below:

Must See Places List in Yarmouth, MA

FAMILY ACTIVITIES in Yarmouth Cape Cod

Are you looking for things to do in Cape Cod with your family? Yarmouth offers many fun activities for you and your loved ones to enjoy! Browse our list below for details or also see our list of things to do with kids on Cape Cod

Family Activities List in Yarmouth, MA

RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES ON CAPE COD

When Mother Nature disrupts your beach plans, having a rainy-day activity in your back pocket is a must! Checkout our list below for fun things to do in Yarmouth when it is raining.

Rainy Day Activities List in Yarmouth, MA