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Port Royal rowing into its next 269 years

The town of Port Royal welcomed both familiar and new faces to its inaugural Charter Day celebration on Saturday.

The tiny riverfront town is struggling to survive but set its problems aside for the day and celebrated the signing of its charter 269 years ago this week.

The festivities on the town green honored the rich history of Port Royal with educational speakers, a band, folks in period clothing, food, beer, vendors—and even a pirate.

Though there was a chill in the air, the sun was shining all day as a steady flow of people came and went.

The emcee for the day was Capt. Jaxx Parrow (think Johnny Depp in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies), who did not fail to amuse festival-goers.

The Gary Lee Tolley & Friends band played a variety of music.

Speakers from Historic Port Royal shared tidbits of the town’s history throughout the day.

The Reedville Fishermen’s Museum brought The Spirit of 1608, a recreation of the John Smith Discovery Barge that Smith and the Jamestown crew used to explore and chart the Chesapeake Bay in 1608.

A tent from the Westmoreland Long Hunters displayed Virginia long guns, jawbone knives, and other colonial-style objects.

Members of the Port Royal Fire Department dished up hot lunch, with chilly festival goers flocking to the steaming chicken noodle soup.

There was a small beer garden, with Bud Light and Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager on tap.

Members of the Port Royal Town Council, the Caroline County Board of Supervisors and other county officials stopped by to take part in the festivities.

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, visited in the afternoon after stopping at several other events around the region. He said he grew up in a small town similar to Port Royal—nearby Tappahannock—and considers survival of such places to be critical.

“I think days like today bring communities together,” he said.

Town Council members echoed his sentiment.

Council Member Bill Wick said the day was about celebrating the town’s charter in the best way possible.

“The way to do it is with celebrating with lots of folks and make sure people have a good time,” he said.

The town is negotiating a boundary line adjustment with Caroline County so that it can grow and bring in more revenue from commercial businesses.

The town currently is less than 80 acres, with fewer than 200 residents. With the proposed change, it would grow to more than 400 acres and take in some of the businesses just outside the town’s border, such as Horne’s and River Haven restaurants.

Though this was the first year the town held its celebration, officials promised it would not be the last.

“It’s a celebration of the life of this little town and an affirmation of its future,” said Town Council Member Jim Heimbach.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413