Pirogue-building, costume contest, Cajun Pirate Cook-off part of Louisiana Pirate Festival lineup

Louisiana Pirate Festival logo full

The pirates are coming!

The Louisiana Pirate Festival will kick off along the shoreline of Lake Charles on Friday when buccaneers take over the city and force Mayor Nic Hunter to walk the plank. 

Activities for the 61-year-old festival — formerly known as Contraband Days — also include pirogue-building and arm-wrestling contests, the Gator Grand Prix Go-Kart Races, a Cajun Pirate Cook-off, costume contests, fireworks over the lake, boat parade and more.  

Eric Zartler, vice chair of the festival, said the organization is

also reviving the bathtub and bed races from yesteryear, back by

popular demand.

“We decided to try and bring back some of the old hits,” he said. “These were very popular back in the day and we decided to go ahead and bring them back and give them another shot and see if we can rejuvenate it back for the local crowd participation.”

Other family-friendly events during the festival include cannon demonstrations, local arts and crafts, a Little Matey Children’s Area with Captain Crabbe, petting zoo, inflatables, rain gutter pirate ship races, games and attractions, including the Todd Armstrong Carnival.

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

Rick Hickman

“The children’s area is going to be awesome,” Zartler said. “It’s going to have magic and we also have a pirate parrot show by a gentleman in full pirate garb who will talk to the kids about parrots and pirate life.”  

Entertainment over the 10-day festival will include The 33’s, Jamie Bergeron & the Kickin’ Cajuns, Jerry Diaz & Hannah’s Reef, Amanda Shaw, The Flamethrowers, After Hours, Bluesiana Red, Sean Ardoin & Zydecool, TJ Gautreaux & Louisiana Soul, Rusty Metoyer & The Zydeco Krush and Dylan Scott.

(American Press Archives)

“We’re super excited that our entire lineup has Louisiana connections,” Zartler said. 

There is no admission or parking charges to attend the festival. The carnival rides will open at 4 p.m. on weekdays and noon Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s going to be an exciting environment,” he said. “All of the outdoor events will be held on the south side of the Rosa Heart Theater, including the carnival. Music will be at the amphitheater and we’ve got a lot of great food vendors.”Gold Coin stock

Zartler said new this year to the festival is the Pirate Festival Costume Ball. 

The ball, which benefits the St. Nicholas Center for Children, will be 7:30-11:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, in the Civic Center’s Buccaneer Room. 

“It’s going to be one of those events that you’ll definitely want to be scene at,” Zartler said. “It’s going to be phenomenal, just a great celebration of the festival with pirate-themed food, people in costume and our ‘Message in a Bottle’ fundraiser.”

Zartler said for $20, attendees can purchase a bottle with a scroll inside telling them their prize. 

“It can be a prize anywhere from a $20 value all the way to a $350 value,” he said. “There are some great prizes like an overnight stay at hotels to a diamond necklace to a bottle of wine.”

New Orleans party band Mixed Nuts will also perform. Attendees must be at least 21. Tickets are $45 for single entry, $75 for a couple and $400 for a table of eight and can be purchased at www.louisianapiratefestival.com.

Online: visitlakecharles.org.

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