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Pirates Set to Run Amok in Annual Invasion

by S. Lynne on May 23rd, 2012

Will Fort Walton Beach be overrun, or will Mayor Mike Anderson and his loyal pirate allies successfully defend the city from the dastardly Billy Bowlegs and his motley Krewe?

That’s the question guaranteed to bring the crowds to Fort Walton Beach’s annual Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival, to be held this year from May 31 to June 2. Started in 1953 as a water skiing festival whose pirate theme was inspired by the notorious William Augustus Bowles, Billy Bowlegs has grown into one of the premier festivals of its kind in the country.

Sponsored by the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and area businesses, this year’s festival kicks off on Friday, May 31, with the Pirate Walk in downtown Fort Walton Beach from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The festivities open officially at The Landing Park at 6 p.m. Friday evening. Admission is free.

Captain Billy and his Krewe of Bowlegs come ashore for their traditional “scouting” trip on Friday (although rumor has it that they may try to sneak in on Thursday night, too), followed by their attempt to wrest the city from the mayor and his supporters on Saturday afternoon.

In addition to the pirate escapades, the festival offers plenty for landlubbers to do, with food and drink, music, and vendors selling glass art, jewelry, clothing, and other wares.   There will be lots of kid activities, too, with a Bounce House, Euro Bungee, Hamster Water Ride, Rock Climb, airbrush, and interactive games. Tickets for the kid stuff will be available at the festival.

Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers band will be playing throughout the festival. Friday night festival-goers will have a special treat, with Cabo Rock performing from 8 to 10 p.m. Billed as “The Gulf Coast’s Hottest Rock and Roll Band,” this six-piece band from Destin has a repertoire of songs by rock greats such as Journey, REO Speedwagon, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Boston, Kansas, Styx, and Pink Floyd.

For more information on the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival and a complete schedule of events, go to or contact events director Marcia Bunge at 850-244-8191 or

For places to stay in Fort Walton Beach or nearby Destin, check out our listings for Fort Walton Beach vacation rentals and Destin vacation rentals. For restaurants and other things to do, click on the following links: Destin restaurants, Fort Walton Beach restaurants, Destin recreation, and Fort Walton Beach recreation.

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