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Privateers celebrate second annual island grog fest

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Anna Maria Island Privateers Debbie “Stumbles” Murphree and Alex Zuchniewicz embrace on Bridge Street at their Sept. 22 grog party, which included the pirate duties of handing out beads, selling scurvy dogs and testingg grog offered in a friendly competition by 12 local establishments. The Privateers Grog Fest was held at the Drift In Tavern, 120 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Mark Young

Arrrgh! Drink up the grog me hearties or be you a scurvy bilge rat.

While not necessarily the greeting for guests to the Anna Maria Island Privateers second annual Grog Fest, it was a pirates day Sept. 22 at the Drift In, 120 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach.

While the Privateers sometimes put on an intimidating glare, the charitable nonprofit group’s Grog Fest was to raise money for their scholarship fund. Each year, the group helps college students advance by providing assistance.

A dozen bars and restaurants entered their interpretation of grog into the annual contest to claim bragging rights for the year.

According to Roger “Hoodat” Murphree, the inaugural event last year raised $1,000, “and we are hoping to double that this year,” he said.

The term grog dates back to the pirate days where a ship’s quartermaster would add rum to the crew’s water supply.

Murphree said fresh water didn’t last long on voyages and the rum helped to keep the water clean.

“That was a technique used not only by pirates, but most of the world’s navies,” he said. “The water was usually stored in oak kegs and would go stagnate after just a few days. The rum killed the bacteria and kept the water drinkable.”

Today’s grog is any mixture of alcohol concoctions, minus the beer.

Guests to the Grog Fest tasted a dozen samples and voted on their favorite, and the Privateers created a “traveling trophy” for the winner to keep for a year.

Last year’s grog winner, the Drift In, was this year’s host, and this year’s big winner: Big Fish Real Estate.

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