Like most festivals, vendors display their wares at the Blackbeard Pirate Festival in Hampton, Virginia. As a bonafide hat person I was immediately drawn to this hatmaker’s display. While her impressive creations were out of my reach, I came away with a heartwarming tale.
There used to be some debate about whether to exhibit her hats at the Blackbeard festival. There are only so many weekends in the festival season and lots of different events for exhibitors to choose from. But now you can rely on seeing this magnificent millinery in Hampton every year, thanks to a natural disaster.
An unwelcome guest crashed the party at the 2012 Blackbeard Pirate Festival. A sizeable tornado ripped through the Hampton waterfront at the height of the festival. Thankfully no one was hurt, but in an instant thousands of dollars worth of hats and other inventory were scattered across the entire waterfront.
What on earth would make a vendor unfailingly loyal to an event hit by disaster? Well, Hampton rose to the occasion. Nearly all of the merchandise was found and retrieved. Locals and festivalgoers alike pitched in to hunt for goods the vendors had lost and much of the inventory was recovered. Boaters at the marina later turned in items found on their vessels and took steps to return them to their rightful owners.
So, that is why you will always have the chance to buy a historically inspired handmade leather hat at the Blackbeard Pirate Festival.
Disclosure and Acknowledgements: On this trip I was hosted by the Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau. Many thanks Ryan Downey for being our indispensable go-to guy during our stay.