Friday, 1 August 2014

Your first visit?? Some Ideas for circumventing culture shock!

If the Pirate festival is the first event of this type that you are visiting, there may be a little bit of culture shock. There are people in different styles of clothing who are waiting to interact with you – perhaps speaking with an accent, or using words you are unaccustomed to hearing. There are not many places in our everyday life that that this type of interaction occurs, so it is natural to feel a little nervous. 

Here are a few tips to help you get into the spirit of the day.

1. Relax, and remember that fun is the main intention here. Any question posed to you is intended to help spark your imagination, not test your knowledge.

2. If you are not sure of who the person speaking to you is, don’t be afraid to ask them – or better yet, introduce yourself. You don’t need to use your full name, or even your real name. It’s a pirate festival – so pick a persona – “I’m Bob the cabin boy”, or “I’m Captain Blue”, or “I’m the Duchess of Tortuga” all work equally well. If you want to be yourself, that is fine too – but a pirate may not understand what a computer programmer does, so be prepared to explain.

3. Try to find out who different people are – are they a pirate? Who is their Captain? Why have they chosen this village? Are they a villager? What do they think about the pirates? Most of the time, you may not have to ask the question – the performers are more than ready to tell you all – but asking the question will give you a starting point.

4. The more involved you get, the more fun you will have. Watching a game is fun, but playing it is better! There are plenty of games to be played - from a game of checkers, to Rat Pucking, or participate in either the kid's scavenger hunt, or our photo scavenger hunt, all designed to give you something to DO while you get the lay of the land. 

5. Try to overcome the fear of saying the wrong thing – saying anything is preferred to ignoring an interaction. Most performers are heartened by your attempts, and will try to help you out of a sticky verbal situation.

6. If someone is doing something interesting, or carrying something that you find intriguing, it is appropriate to ask questions about it – so long as you are not interrupting an obvious show. (For example – don’t ask a pirate about the weapon they are using WHILE they are fighting a duel!)

7. If you are uncomfortable getting involved in a specific situation, a smile and a firm “no” should be sufficient to deter any further promptings. Performers will respect your polite refusal to participate if you make it clear that you are not interested in interacting with them at the moment. For a more fun approach, you could always try to deflect an advance with a bit of humour “Alas, good pirate – I would join your crew if I were a free man, but my captain would flay me alive were I to jump ship!”

8. Try to think things through before you ask a question – if the answer is obvious, try to think of a different question. Yes, if it is a warm day, the people in costume are indeed hot. Yes, the pickles are actual real pickles. Remember that the obvious questions have probably been answered at least 20 times today - but we are happy to answer them again if you want!

9. If it sounds a little outlandish – it is probably for fun. If the Chandler tries to sell you 100 barrels of tar, you can likely play along without needing your wallet. If a merchant is offering a particularly lovely piece of jewelry – the price is not likely to be a jest – and they will expect your wallet to become involved. That said – don’t trust the mud pit actors – they WILL hug you if encouraged!

10. Figure out what the most common words / sayings mean, and use them yourself whenever appropriate. If you are not sure, ask! 

11. Watch some shows. You can follow the storyline of the day through a variety of different shows, beginning with opening gate, and ending at the pub sing show. Decided to sleep in, or need to leave early? Find a resident of Dry Bluffs, and find out what you've missed so far!

12. Dress the part - if you feel like it! We've seen it all - from grandma wearing ripped jeans and a bandana to little tykes dressed in historically accurate clothing. Many people come in "regular" clothing, buta hat and some sunscreen will keep you from turning into a lobster. Want more ideas of what to wear? Check this out!

In short, have fun, and let your imagination out! We're glad to see you, whatever your level of comfort!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rat Pucking!

Dearest Lucy,
My goodness, there is much news to be shared as the Festival approaches! The entire village is busy preparing, the merchants are preparing their wares, and the entertainers are practicing – it promises to be an excellent 3 days of festival fun!

Pirate Kitty is very interested in Rat Pucking!

 Mr. Sparsgood, on the other hand, has been playing games. He recently met a man named Emrys Fleet, who introduced him to the “sport” of Rat Pucking (Enunciation is important here, my dear!), and Mr. Sparsgood is quite mad about it! I’m just glad it keeps him out of the house, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to bear it!
Emrys Fleet, the originator of Rat Pucking
You will recall that Mr. Sparsgood holds the position of Chandler – as a reminder to you, that is the person who is responsible to sell supplies to ships – but now that the waters have well and truly receded and we are several days from the nearest port, there is not much business to be had. That said, Mr. Sparsgood always kept a hand in, as it were, keeping a stock of supplies on hand that might have other uses. You will recall that I complained quite heartily of his irrational insistence that I too sell wares from a basket – an insistence that he has not rescinded, even though I noted that he himself is spending more time on his new hobby than anything else. To make matters worse, Mr. Sparsgood’s hobby is taking the village by storm, and people (read “certain captains”) who previously spent their leisure time in my company are now finding less and less time for the likes of me!  
Explaining the rules of Pucking
A rat for pucking purposes
Mr. Sparsgood is currently busy planning Dry Bluff’s first annual Rat Pucking tournament, and as it is all he talks about of late, I trust you will allow me some latitude to explain what it is all about. The game is played with a “rat” – artificial, I assure you;    and a stick. The stick must be used to fling the rat towards a specified target, and the person who takes the fewest “pucks” to get there is the winner. To make the game more challenging, the route taken to get to the target is decided on the spur of the moment. For example, yesterday, Mr. Sparsgood and Captain Dampier were playing a “quick round” before dinner. They had decided that the target was my laundry tub, and although they began at the fence line, rather than make the straight shot (a mere 20 feet, to be sure), they decided they would first go over the clothesline, then around the well before they aimed for the basin. This of course results in much merriment, and a few sheets on the line that were previously clean now need washing again. 
Addressing the rat with the stick
Between us, I must admit that the game does look fun, and were it not for the fact that I abhor my husband’s company, I am sure that I would enjoy the game – especially if we could play right after that “so called mayor” put her laundry on the line! As it is, I shall have to content myself with watching from a distance. I do think, however, that I will encourage festival attenders to join in the fun, that way, perhaps I will have more time to myself to pursue my own interests.  

The tournament will run all three days of the Festival – August 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, and there will be three different games each day – at 10:30, beginning at the Mud stage, at 1:00, beginning at the Keel Haul Stage, and at 4:00, from the Mud stage. There is a one time adoption fee of $10 for the rat, which you can then name, keep, and reuse whenever you play. There will sticks available for borrowing, or you may bring your own, keeping in mind that they must be wooden.  All puckers are responsible to keep their rats well away from any bystanders, and must cry out “CHEESE” when it is their turn as a warning, so if you hear that, please ensure to keep an eye out for flying rats. Although anyone is welcome to play, please note that there is limited space available, and games may be limited to a certain number of participants.
Well, Lucy, that is all the room I have for this letter – I hope I have amused you with my description. If it sounds a little ridiculous, it probably is, but I hear that ridiculous games are all the rage these days! If you do attend, I shall do my best to overcome my dislike for my husband and endeavour to play a round with you!