Pirate Fest brings tourists to Vero Beach

Vero Beach sees tourism dollars from festival
Posted at 12:42 PM, Jul 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 04:28:38-04

It's a unique way to boost Vero Beach's economy: a weekend-long pirate festival.

For three days the Vero Beach Pirate Festival recreates what life was like for pirates around the time the 1715 Treasure Fleet sunk near Vero Beach, giving the Treasure Coast its nickname.

"We want to teach everybody a little bit about history here," said Kathy Gilbert, who organizes the event.

The festival, held Friday through Sunday marked the second year that historians and real-life treasure hunters gathered in Vero Beach to teach people about the area's history with pirates and their ships.

The inaugural festival was held last year on the 300th anniversary of the Treasure Fleet's sinking.

Gilbert organizes pirate festivals across the state, and says starting one in Vero Beach was the city's chamber of commerce's idea.

"To help with tourism, to bring people here, and just something great that the whole community can be involved with," said Gilbert.

Gilbert estimates that 20,000 people were in attendance over the weekend, saying the festival is growing. Around 14,000 people attended last year.

"We have people from all over Florida and even out of state that come to join us," Gilbert said. "It's great for the local businesses. The hotels, the restaurants, everybody benefits."