With its Chesapeake Bay backdrop and Eastern shore charm, Rock Hall, Maryland, about two hours from D.C., has long been a destination for pleasure boaters and seafood fanatics. But once a year the town—typically known for its post-card perfect scenery complete with sail boats on the bay, light waves and moonlit marinas—hosts a rowdier crowd to celebrate its city-by-the-sea heritage: welcome to Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend. Held annually during the second week of August, the three-day festival revolves around grub and grog, and of course—pirates.
The sixth-annual “Fantasy Weekend” took place Aug. 9 to 11 and turned Rock Hall’s Main Street into a bustling marketplace full of costumed pirates, live musicians, artists, merchants and food vendors. On Saturday, beach party attendees saw prizes awarded for the best decorated boats and the scurviest and most spirited crew. Those who made their way to the festival via boat were extra cautious as buccaneers, armed with Super Soakers and water balloons and adding to the lively environment, were waiting to fire their “weapons.” All the mayhem can work up an appetite, and Rock Hall’s restaurants got in on the action-packed weekend too.
The Inn at Osprey Point, named best romantic dinner restaurant by Chesapeake Magazine, held a theme-appropriate rum tasting on Friday evening. Bay Wolf Restaurant hosted pirate performers and a sea-shanty sing-along. Costumes were encouraged at every event, and Waterman’s Crab House and Dock Bar, an award-winning waterfront dining spot, held a buccaneer’s ball and crowned a best-dressed king and queen.
One of the area's true dining gems, The Kitchen at Rock Hall, is one of tastiest ways to experience the town’s fresh, local food. Husband-and-wife-team Steve and Monica Quigg run a cozy restaurant that serves outstanding cuisine. The dishes are straightforward and showcase what a few, fresh ingredients can accomplish when cooked just right. For an appetizer, consider trying the kitchen crab dip, a creamy concoction of cheeses and Old Bay served with toasted bread, or the pan-fried oysters served with roasted tomato remoulade. In addition to its seafood entrees, The Kitchen offers a mouthwatering seared beef tenderloin—and if you’re lucky, the Quiggs will explain their secret to the perfect sear. Be sure to make reservations since the small restaurant fills up quickly—especially on event weekends.
For an appetizing and entertaining escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown D.C., mark your calendars for next year's Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend.
Aimee Wharton is a freelance writer and contributor to the Daily Meal.