Heritage Days need sponsor to boost Pirates Week

| 06/11/2018 | 42 Comments
Cayman News Service

Pirates Week in the Cayman Islands

(CNS): Changes over the last two years to the Pirates Week Festival are due to a lack of funding and organisers are looking for the best way to make what little ‘treasure’ there is go further while maintaining the concept of the Heritage Days. But without a major sponsor for the district days, Pirates Week Executive Director Melanie McField explained that her team has to do what it can to keep the traditional events going with very little cash.

Over the years, major local sponsors have pulled out, and while government continues to allocate about the same funding each year for the festival, the lack of private sector backing for the Heritage Days makes it difficult to keep them going in the condensed festival.

Speaking to CNS, McField said that the committees that organise the Heritage Days wanted to return to the tradition of holding events in each district this year, after the experiment last year to condense this into one event on a single day failed to garner support.

But she said that if the Heritage Days were held after the Pirates Landing event on Saturday, which is now followed by the mock trial on Sunday, there was concern that most of the visitors who came purely for the festival would then leave and there would have been few left to support them.

Keeping the Heritage Days alive meant running them before the Pirates Landing event this weekend because this gives the district committees a chance to attract bigger crowds. This is a problem that has emerged since Pirates Week was reduced from a ten-day festival on Grand Cayman spanning two weekends.

McField said the options were limited, but a decision was made to hold the Heritage Days before the Pirate antics begin on Friday. She hopes that visitors who are coming for the Pirates Festival this coming weekend will have arrived in time to visit the districts and enjoy the Heritage Days before the bulk of the festival events in George Town.

She said the Pirates Week office would like to do much more for the Heritage Days and support the district committees but it is all about money and with so little to go around, changes have had to be made.

McField said that there is much criticism when the festival changes to fit the budget but little genuine help coming from those critics to support the Heritage Days.

“We really do need a major sponsor to help the district committees with the Heritage Days,” she said. The changes, she noted, have nothing to do with past controversies about separating the Heritage Days, which focus on Cayman culture and traditions, from Pirates Week; the festival remains a tourism attraction and “pirates” is the key word for visitors.

Combining the festivities over two weeks across all three islands allows for more participation in all the festivities, she said.

“It lessens the work load on the district committees,” she said. “It’s also easier to package as a festival vacation for hotels and flights, ultimately attracting more tourists by driving more sales through packaged travel via travel agents,” she added, pointing out that the whole point of the festival to begin with is to boost visitor numbers.

Another change this year, unrelated to the official organisers of the festival, is that The Jolly Roger pirate ship will be out of action during its most important week of the year. The tour boat ran aground last month, for the second time this storm season, during bad weather as Hurricane Michael passed by, and the vessel remains in dry dock under repair.

The Pirates Week Festival began in Cayman Brac on Friday and will finish on 16 November in Little Cayman. The Heritage Days also began on Friday in East End and they continue through this week, ending in George Town on Thursday ahead of the kick-off party.

On Friday the festival formally opens with the fireworks display, street dance and food festival. Events continue with the Pirates Landing on Saturday, all the way through the holiday weekend until the pirates get their comeuppance on Monday.


Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (42)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The marketing is definitely the problem but in an opposite way. Once it became 100% marketing, people could tell. Even the partying seems inauthentic.

  2. Anonymous says:

    just went to the GT heritage day. Sponsorship is the least of their problems. Organisation – of displays and activities – is the big problem. I recall school fairs with more energy and activities.

    I don’t attend the Ag show because its too many people. Clearly they’re doing something right. I suggest the Pirates Week office and district committees get their notes before class next year.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I submit the problem is not cash sponsorship but support. Pirates week is supposed to be a tourist trap. (Bonus points that residents get to enjoy both the partying but also the dressing up & making floats, and the inter-district competition.) The heritage days a way to get tourists to the outer districts. (Bonus points for ‘preserving’ heritage and showcasing it to school kids.) Back in the good old days a lot of people – not in the tourism industry directly – volunteered a lot of time and effort putting on the heritage day (and floats for the parade). Now the heritage days are a shadow of their former self. Because we haven’t been able to attract new, equally dedicated, people to the heritage day committees (for a variety of reasons). If CIG/CITA/etc. still think that pirates week is worth the effort to bring in tourists and want heritage days to spread the tourists around the districts, then they (the pirates week office in particular) are going to have to do a much better analysis of what the problems are (not just what’s wrong with the show, but WHY) and address them. Sponsorship is the least of their problems. If the pirates week office had a better, more relevant, product they would get more sponsors.

  4. Anonymous says:

    we caymanians so poor…how you expect us to fork out anything….big corporations sucking pockets dry??

  5. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone completed a survey and ask why the private sector had ceased their funding towards this heritage and part of our culture? Is it they don’t care about caymans heritage or culture? Is it just a chore and a bore, nothing new? The powers need to investigate why the decline in support and fix it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The picture says it all. I’ll pass.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just went to Bodden Town to get food – what a disappointment. Back in the day and i mean the 80’s we all went to work dressed as pirates for the whole week. and if it was your district day we got to go home 1/2 day. Your work place sent someone to get food for the entire office.(every day of the pirate week) Rum punch was served all day at work. We puked every morning but we was at work enjoying the Pirates week.

    Now all i see is expensive food – with no taste. few police hanging around staring in space. no pirates walking around – I mean come on people shut this thing down now.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Its not about sponsorship, its about marketing. Anyone knew what was happening this year? I went online looking for the fireworks time and discovered the heritage days were this week (and Cayman Brac last weekend).

    This year’s schedule isn’t necessarily bad, it ties the Brac in tighter and still book-ends ‘heritage week’ with two pirate weekends as bookends, so there is some interesting marketing potential there. If marketed.

    But whether heritage week before or after the landing weekend “ultimately attracting more tourists by driving more sales through packaged travel via travel agents” well, show us the numbers.

  9. Say it like it is says:

    Well our runners are doing their part, shelling out CI$50 for the two PW races

  10. Anonymous says:

    Even back in the 1990’s we were talking about disbanding this Festival, one which uses DoT cash to celebrate and identify culturally with lawlessness, alcoholism, exploitation, abductions, rape, and pillaging. How much of it is light-hearted fantasy, and how much of it is art imitating life? We can’t say with a straight face that our contemporary crime woes are historic problems…the reports that come from these events speak for themselves. You want a business to tie its name to that?!?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The District Days are encouraged to bring people to each district. There are those that never go beyond SMB or the edge of their own home/work. This is a good thing.
    The schedule of piling it all in one weekend (for Grand) is horrid. You cannot attend and participate in all. You must choose only what you can manage in one Saturday.
    The Pooch Parade and the Cardboard Boat races should not be held on the morning of the parade. I’d like to attend all but no way can one be expected to stand in the sun ALL DAY LONG.

    • Anonymous says:

      Point. What if stuff like the pooch parade and cardboard boat were ‘farmed out’ to the various districts (to help pad out those days)? Make each one a half-day event. Start with lunch, have a mid-afternoon and an evening highlight finishing with fireworks and party right after dark.

      The days of enough people taking off work to make a full day of events at a heritage day is probably over but the district committees may still be able to manage a half-day of events.

      And here I guess I agree with the Pirates Week Office. District tourist businesses sponsoring the district day, encouraging tourists to come out to their district/business, would help the district committees pull off better events. (Sponsorship doesn’t have to be cash, just having half of your staff in costume to participate at the fair ground would be a huge help.)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wacky private sector again.

    Pirates week is dying, the food at the poorly attended district days is overpriced and Awful tasting.

    My suggestion make it a one day event. Landing, food and fireworks and street dance and done!

    You don’t need a wacky private sector sponsor for that.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Why did change from 7 days to 4 days? Maybe that’s the cause of it FAILING!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I cannot see any logic in these changes. The concept of Pirates Week was that pirates landed and took over the island. They were visible around the island and attended District Days. Visitors who arrived for the pirates landing usually stayed on and shared the other events including the heritage days. Now we have decided to reverse the order of events to give the district committees a chance to attract bigger crowds. Did I also read the the pirates will be tried on Sunday, would that be Sunday, 11th November, when Cayman and the rest of the free world marks 100 years since
    the end of World War 1.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Pirates Week should be a huge local and tourism event, but instead of catering for families, residents and tourists who wish to dress up and indulge in a little piratical fun, the organisers think it wise to attract the goons who want to make the population feel intimidated, especially after dark.
    The music is basically crap when the parade has finished, with loud and obnoxious hip hop, rap and Jamaican boom boom trash filling the streets. This BS attracts the wrong people and forces the fun loving locals, residents and tourists out of town, leaving GT to the mercy of pot smoking thugs and gangs of unsociable idiots who know no better.
    Please bring Pirates Week back to the people, not the idiots. Please bring back the party music and fun that everyone wants in the Caribbean.
    Close the day down at midnight and stop hiring lame DJ’s and crude hosts who attract the wrong crowd to our national festival of imagination and fun.

  16. Anonymous says:

    These two things do not really fit together.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Not long ago you wanted to abolish pirate’s week, now you want it to pay for heritage week?

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been to a few of the heritage days over the years and they really are a boring waste of time. Condensing everything into one long weekend makes more sense , hopefully the fireworks will be spectacular again this year.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Why would we sponsor them if they don’t even know the correct park and street names where their events are being held?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, from a tourism perspective PW has become one of those, ‘been there, seen it, won’t bother again,’ events. In fact judging by some the hotel rates on offer recently you do have wonder if it’s actually doing more harm to stayover tourism than good.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Old and jaded. The only pirates left are in the government and the financial “industry”.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I can’t speak on all the districts but I remember when East End’s district day was so nice. Just being there, seeing alll the artifacts, getting the good local food, watching the bonfire and fireworks and then the dance afterwards was great. I don’t know who was funding it or why they don’t do the bonfire/fireworks any longer. Back then there was a lot of volunteers and people working together. I suppose things have changed. Cudos to the United Church Ladies who still provide the delicious dishes.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Imagine what will happen to Pirate’s Week if the new cruise port goes in?
    Harbour view will be right in the toilet.
    Festivities blocked by giant, towering ships.
    Sadly, Pirate’s Week is going the way of the thatch palm.
    Cayman heritage has dried up.
    The dollars only want to spent be on iguana culling, expensive trips, bad advertising, boardwalks, Miami concrete, and bad decision after bad decision.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Some of the PW events are just lame. End of story. Why does each district have a heritage day? Why can’t they all be at 1 place and have a setup which shows what they are known for? Pedro or even just at the waterfront on a Saturday? I’d love for my family to go around to each “district” and spend the day learning about the island. Plus this way tourists can come and learn too. No way are they going to drive to each district each day. No way am I going to either!

    Get a few bouncy castles, face painters, food booths, booze licenses, and music together and lets have a cool party where you learn and have fun!

    As for the Jolly Roger, anymore news on the insurance collection? Lol.

  25. Anonymous says:

    caymanian heritage….what dat is?

    • Anonymous says:

      to your point, ,,,,,heritage certainly isn’t about bouncy castles! why don’t they have the types of games we played in our youth?! and yes, we do have a heritage that could be better built on.

    • Anonymous says:

      Piracy, still rife today.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please don’t tell me you’re American! LMAO

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a full, detailed educational progrmame on culture and heritage taught in all schools. It is a one hour presentation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Slavery pretty much.

    • Anonymous says:

      What dat is?

      Certainly not Pirates Week.

      Elements of the District Heritge Days, yes.


    • Anonymous says:

      Good question 1:45. You could ask Loxley Banks because he is always beating his gums on Radio Cayman about the necessity to preserve our culture and heritage but no one ever asks him to speak about and give examples of these. I wonder if he could.


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