Merriment and Mayhem in Port Washington, Wisconsin
Scheduled for the first full weekend of June, the Port Washington Pirate Festival in Port Washington, Wisconsin promises both merriment and mayhem on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. Happening upon last year’s festival somewhat by chance, we returned in 2012 with a fleet of 28 kids and adults in tow (alas, no parrots).
Participating in the event festivities, food, marketplace, children’s activities, and parade, the Port Washington Pirate Festival offered something for everyone in our group. Located one block off main street, some of us walked the pier, others found the beach, some of us went geocaching, and a few people pillaged at the local shops.
An excuse to break out plastic swords, wear eye patches, and tell pirate jokes (Why didn’t the girl pirate wear a bra? She had a sunken chest!), amateur and professional pirates take over downtown for the weekend. With cannons firing on the hour and a schooner docked in the harbor, we even witnessed a theme wedding, complete with hanging lanterns and a Bluebeard look-alike directing attendees down to the waterfront.
Beyond dressing for the occasion, kids in the group enjoyed activities such as axe throwing, giant hula-hoops, the life-sized inflatable ship complete with giant squid. For those of us with a limited-tolerance for crowds, make sure to visit the Possibility Playground located just north of downtown in Port Washington’s Upper Lake Park (available year-round, with or without the festivities).
A community-built playground project built allowing children of all ages and abilities to play together, the enclosed space offers latex-free surfaces, ramps, and a soft (squishy) landing surface. Nautical themed, the park has brightly colored play structures, sand pits, and even a cool bridge that swings from side-to-side. Also a perfect vantage point for a breathtaking picnic above the great lake, park patrons can brave several flights of wooden stairs down to the beach (read: a fantastic opportunity to tire young people out). Look for the pirate-themed geocache while you’re in the area.
Where to Stay
With five families in our party, we needed local lodging that not only accommodated the large group, but offered communal gathering spaces for playing games, watching movies, and cooking enough food to feed a small army (and save on meals). Enjoying two evenings of camp fires and a large group wagon ride, The Bunkhouse was our home-away-from-home for the weekend (and with extra-long twin beds, in the dormitory-style bedrooms, the experience is much closer to hotel than camping). Not to mention, having the entire building to ourselves gave us a better sense of community and allowed the kids to wild rumpus without disturbing patrons attempting to relax.
Located six miles north of downtown Port Washington on County Road KW, is a barn turned bunkhouse. Accommodating up to 22 guests for large group lodging, The Bunkhouse is ideal for reunions, retreats, and even corporate outings. Operated by the Large family, the lodge facility is a completely re-furbished dairy barn originally built in 1885. Also accommodating hunting parties through Pheasants @ Large, the facility caters to hunters of upland birds with dog kennels, cleaning rooms, and nearby hunting grounds. Take a video tour of The Bunkhouse here.