Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify details about the new festival planned for June.
Port Washington Pirate Festival is cancelled this year after issues between the event organizer and city officials could not be resolved, and Port is now working with the Grafton Blues Association for a family-friendly event to replace it.
A Facebook post announcing the cancellation of the event went up shortly after noon on Tuesday, reading:
"Cancelled. Dear Friends of the Pirate Festival please make plans to invade another port June 7, 8 & 9th, 2013, you are not wanted in Port Washington. More information to follow including auctioning off Pirate Festival treasures. We are so sorry to pass along the bad news. Hopefully in the future we can find a port where we and our money are welcome. Please keep posted."
City Administrator Mark Grams said that organizer Kimberly McCulloch continually failed to meet requests from the city for certain procedures to be followed in coordinating the fest.
"There were some obligations (organizer Kimberly McCulloch) had to meet for the city to consider holding Pirate Fest this year," he said. "We just can't deal with an individual that won't meet the requirements to have a festival."
A rocky relationship from the start
Port Washington Pirate Festival hit rocky waters earlier this year as McCulloch and city officials clashed about the event's structure and reputation. The festival had outstanding bills owed to vendors, and the city was upset by the number of calls it's received from those parties hoping to be paid; many people don't understand the city isn't actually in charge of the event.
The city had also previously requested the names and contact information for others involved in the process so that they could all be on the same page; they said McCulloch did not provide this information by the date they requested.
McCulloch told Patch on Tuesday that payments are being made to vendors who still have outstanding bills, and that a lawsuit against the organization has been resolved; she also said the requests for information were unfair.
"What they were asking for was almost our 13 spices for the recipe," McCulloch told Patch on Tuesday, explaining that providing contact information for all of the vendors and entertainers and other aspects of the festival would essentially be turning over a business plan to new owners.
Ald. Douglass Biggs pointed out that the city did not take any action to cancel the fest, but rather none of the licenses need for the event were submitted for city approval. McCulloch told Patch she tried to turn in the license applications during a meeting with Grams and Mayor Tom Mlada, but that the two officials refused to take it. Mlada called this statement absolutely false.
"The first is the factual side of things — her arguing that she tried to turn in paperwork in febraury is not accurate at all," Mlada said, adding that this is a minor detail compared to inability by McCulloch to work with the city and fulfill its requests.
McCulloch told Patch on Tuesday night that she is disappointed that the she and city officials couldn't find a way to have a more positive relationship.
"Once we saw the welcome that they gave the (Grafton Blues Association) — we would have loved that," she said. "Seeing how cordially they were treated ... we were behing the 8-ball from day one."
New fest organizers make family-friendly promise
"We just want to thank you really for making us feel so welcome," Kris Raymond of the Grafton Blues Association told the council on Tuesday night. "From the very first time we contacted Charlie it was really a, 'Come on in' (attitude)."
The festival planned for June 7-8 in Port Washington will replace the organizations Lucky Street Music Festival usually hosted annually in Grafton.
"What we have envisioned for Port and the harbor is pretty big and pretty involved," Raymond said, "but I think you'll be proud of it. I know the 'blues' name scares people, but you'll be (surprised what we can do)."
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The festival is described as "a two-day adventure with family activities, multi-genre music stage, roaming performers, BMX stunt performances and much, much more," according to a press release from Mayor Tom Mlada. A downtown scavenger hunt is being considered, and the event will help to highlight Port's Saturday Farmers Market.
Raymond said next year's event will be bigger than this year's, considering the short timeframe for planning.
As for Pirate Fest, McCulloch said she would like to move forward with the festival, whether it be in Port or elsewhere: she had previously been contacted by cities such as Manitowoc, Door County communities, Green Bay and St. Louis to hold the festival there, she said.
She also said they had hoped to set a Guinness Book of World Records record at this year's festival: having the most amount of costumed pirates in one area on a motorcycle — 30,000 people, she said. That record may still be attempted in August during the planned Harley festival.
Will you attend the new Festival in June, or do you want Pirate Fest back?
Tell us in the comments.