Bath Fest 2023: Where art meets history

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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By Clark Curtis for the Washington Daily News

Bath Fest, which represents a long standing tradition of bringing over 300 years of history and people together at historic Bonners Point in Bath, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. And to no surprise, there will pirates lurking all about. “We used to change the theme of the festival each year,” said Phoebe Wahab, chair of the Bath Fest committee. “But when we had Blackbeard 300, the Centennial, it was so popular that we just decided to stay with pirates. People just connect pirates with Bath. That’s what they seem to be curious about when they come to Bath. So, we decided to just give them what they want.”

For the second year in a row the Loose Canon Company from Virgina Beach, which specializes in hands-on history of the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy, will be there. “People will be able to step back in time at a pirate camp, and get a true feel of what life was like,” said Wahab. “ It will be everything from life on a boat, the weapons of the time, to food, etc.”

In addition there will be an arts and crafts area with nearly 70 vendors from around the area. Children’s activities of all kinds will be held in the backyard of the Bonner House, including a rabbit show sponsored by the Beaufort County 4-H. And there will be student art show featuring the work of students from Bath Elementary, grades K through 8. All of their work will be displayed on a white picket fence, with a formal awards ceremony at 1 pm. “This is a big deal for the kids,” said Wahab. “Their work will be on display for the public to see, and their artistic endeavors are being recognized by the Bath Festival committee. And of course the winners will have a ribbon that they will be able to cherish for years to come.”

And no festival would be complete without lots of music and food. The Beaufort County Traditional Music Association along with the Steel Shakers, a high energy blue grass group, the Emerald City Big Band, and Double Portion, a southern gospel group, will be performing throughout the day on the front porch of the historic Bonner House. And there will be food galore which will be supplied by many local clubs and youth groups. “Many local nonprofits will be selling food to benefit their organizations,” said Wahab. “The Bath Rutian Club will selling pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, the Knights of Columbus will have Mexican street corn, the Literacy Volunteers of Beaufort County will be selling strawberry shortcake, and a Boy Scouts of America troop is having a baked sale to raise funds for summer camp.”

For Wahab and the rest of the Bath Fest committee, this is a very special day for the town of Bath and its residents.  “I think many small towns along the road less traveled are finding renewed interest in our post-covid world,” said Wahab. “The setting at Bonner’s Point is truly outstanding as you have Bath Creek and Back Creek coming together and you can see the Pamlico River to the south. To me this is what small town America is all about.”

Bath Fest will run from 10am-3pm this Saturday, May 13th. For more information go to