Author Archives: allenhuffman

Iowa’s Des Moines Renaissance Faire recovers from small fire

Earlier this year, a small fire took out a few food booths at Festival Park, home of the Des Moines Renaissance Faire and other events. During the Times of Future Past event, the affected area was fenced off (see photo). The site owner, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, is in the process of rebuilding the shops so they will be open in time for the Renaissance faire in September. This will be the 10th time that festival has taken place at Festival Park.


Madrigal Banquet in Clear Lake, Iowa


-News Release-

-for immediate

“Inaugural Banquet with Entertainment”

To celebrate St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th) and the 20th anniversary of Christmas by the Lake, the Best Western Holiday Lodge in association with North Iowa Civic Theater will present the first ‘Holiday Madrigal Banquet’. This Christmas themed feast along with an array of performers will take place after the fireworks on that saturday night of Clear Lake’s festive weekend.

This theater-in-the-round traditional olde-English banquet will be set in the Victorian era and will include pre-show contest games, a multi-course meal of unique servings, a cash bar, and professional Renaissance festival performers from around the region.

The performing roster will feature Queen Victoria & Prince Albert, Gilbert O’Sullivan as master of ceremonies, magician Lord Drake, an authentic ‘Punch & Judy’ puppet show, singer Katia del Rio as Eliza Doolittle, the Mixed Doubles Twins with their “Sherlock Holmes” comedy, the swordplay stunt show by Sons of the Mist, strolling minstrels & vocalists, a juggler, comic characters and surprise shenanigans.

The seating will be at round tables of eight settings for individuals, couples, groups or company parties. Tickets will be $30 per person, and must be reserved/purchased in advance.

The doors open at 6:30pm for early seating choices and a half-hour of warm-up games, contests and libations. The main food courses and floor show acts start at 7:00 with the banquet expected to conclude by 8:30.

“We’d like to take the traditional madrigal banquet to another level, and present it as a dinner feast with theatricals. It’ll be somewhat of an indoor Renaissance faire with a nostalgic expression for Christmas of old,” states the event’s producer Gregory Schmidt, who runs four Renaissance festivals around the Upper Midwest.

Interested attendees to the inaugural ‘Holiday Madrigal Banquet’ can secure their tickets and seating by contacting Mandy VanVoorhis at the Best Western Holiday Lodge via or tel. #641-357-5253 ext 488.


CONTACT: Greg Schmidt

Des Moines’ final weekend coming up.

Two weekends down, one weekend to go, for the Des Moines Renaissance Faire. We will have a short writeup about the event once it has concluded.

It is hoped we can make a short visit to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival next (we had to miss the media day), and we have an invitation to attend the Halloween preview at the Muskogee, Oklahoma event.

As we continue relaunching, there should be more and more content here, so bookmark and check back.

Oklahoma Ren Fest gears up for Halloween

Press Release – if we have a way to get there opening weekend, we will try to do a recap and video series.

Halloween activities for everyone!

October 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 31 & November 1
Hours: 6:00p.m. – 10:00p.m. – Halloween Land open 6:00p.m. – 9:00p.m.

Expect a bigger, better, and more exciting Halloween Festival at the Castle of Muskogee with new scenery, more actors, and new merchants. Enjoy ten great Halloween events at one incredible location: 3400 West Fern Mountain Road in Muskogee, Oklahoma’s 60 acre Halloween Theme Park! You’ll find thrills for the entire family, both inside and outside The Castle, located a short 35-minute drive from Tulsa on the Muskogee Turnpike.

A big hit when introduced last year, the ten thousand square foot Dark Castle Zombie Hunt will continue in 2014. You will be issued an infrared assault weapon that fires special “Zombie Bullets” to protect yourself and kill Zombies while you search for survivors of the raging Zombie wars inside. Or, try a walk through the woods on the Trail of Blood where the lost souls of those who have gone before will guide you; the Torture Chamber shows what really happened in medieval times in the depths of the dungeons; Casa Morte is a labyrinth through the 12th Century Castle with doom and mystery around every corner; Domus Horrificus takes you to the areas where your favorite horror monsters dwell; and in the Ultimate Maze, most of you will find your way, and the rest of you, well…..

For those of you with faint hearts, there is always the Haunted Hayride, a trip that is sure to keep you on your toes as you ride through the Halloween Festival grounds; the Enchanted Boardwalk is your chance to stroll on the boardwalk filled with Halloween inflatables; experience live entertainment on the Chessboard Stage with the Magic of Matthew VanZee, the delightful Raks al Hassana Dancers, and the comedy of the Jester Rejects.

For little ones 8 years of age and under, The Halloween Festival hosts Halloween Land – an old fashioned carnival of kid-friendly games, face painting, and prizes with absolutely no scares! The Halloween Village is the place where everyone experiences the very best of Halloween, including ghost stories, dancing, hot & cold food and drinks, games, and bounce houses. Best of all, admission to the Village is FREE!

On Friday, September 10th only, there will be a canned food drive benefiting the Muskogee Cooperative Ministries Food Pantry. For every canned food item you bring to the Castle, you will receive half off a single ticket!
Parking and admission to the Halloween Village is FREE. Tickets must be purchased for each event and the prices range from $2.00 to $15.00 with Combo Specials available. Advance tickets may be purchased on-line. Go to to check out ticket prices, combo packages and specials. Everyone under the age of 18 must have a picture I.D. to enter. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

You can get an early start on Halloween by participating in The Castle Zombie Run on September 13th, a benefit for the American Red Cross, Muskogee Service Center and the Muskogee affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. Zombie Run Registration and Packet retrieval begins at 1:00 pm, the first heat runs at 3:00 pm, and the last heat will be no later than 6:00 pm. Runners receive a t-shirt, a medal, and a reward bag. The Bloodmobile will be available for donations, there will be merchants, food and drink, games, music, and tons of fun! The “Paint the Town Dead” after-party goes until 9pm, and the day ends with Fireworks! Get registered

Midlands Pirate Festival (Omaha, NE) mini recap.

The 7th annual Midlands Pirate Festival near Omaha, Nebraska has now concluded. This two day event, held in the western town of the Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch, has grown and changed considerably since it’s first year in 2008. In recent years, the Ranch has built a massive pirate ship (that you can actually explore), a nicely themed pirate’s pub, and various other buildings that are clear departures from the original Wild West look of the west of the facility.

Entertainment this year consisted of fencing demonstrations, sword/combat performances, juggling, music, belly dancing, magic, improv comedy, children’s entertainment and more. There is a small rocking pirate ship ride for the kids, and various games (like the duck pond and knife tossing) for various ages. The lanes saw plenty of pirates (many were patrons) and a number of Jack Sparrows.

Food at the event is above many, since the Ranch runs most locations and has access to their commercial catering kitchen. They offered shrimp baskets, turkey legs, Scotch eggs, pasta, spiraled potatoes, BBQ sandwiches, hot dogs, corn dogs, funnel cakes, popcorn, sodas, adult beverages, and much more. Outside vendors provided snow cones and homemade rootbeer.

For the grownups, the pirate’s pub had margaritas, sangria, beer, rum drinks and others. Moonstruct Meadery (from nearby Bellevue, NE) was there with three types of their locally made meads. A large group from the Central Iowa Pirate’s Guild made the two hour trek on Saturday and occupied the pub for much of the day, sampling various drinks.

This event is smaller than the Nebraska Renaissance Faire, which is also held at this location in the Spring. The focus is more on piratey fun, with four stages of entertainment and no jousting. This did leave some of the areas feeling a bit sparse compared to that event, but the percentage of patrons that came dressed up seemed much higher – much more of a street party fun event.

The Midlands Pirate Festival is one of several events produced by the publisher of this website, and is done as a partnership with the Bellevue Berry Farm. They are already planning the 2015 Renaissance Faire and Pirate Fest events.

Greetings from Nebraska

We are in Omaha for the weekend, ready for the Midlands Pirate Festival in nearby Papillion. The site has had some new construction since last year, and in spite of all the rain, the Bellevue Berry Farm has made sure the pathways are all clear and wood chipped. Each stage now has rather nice chalk board signs next to them for the schedules. We will have to get some details from them to share, as it seems like a rather nice solution to the problem of “crappy stage signage” so many festivals suffer from. (The white sign below is not part of the stage sign – it’s just being used there instead of writing the stage name in chalk.)

Check back for a recap after this weekend.


Nebraska event: Midlands Pirate Festival

This weekend, the Midlands Pirate Festival will be held in Papillion, Nebraska (near Omaha). This will be the 7th year for this event, which is held at the Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch. This site is also used for the springtime Nebraska Renaissance Faire.

If you attend this year, and would like to contribute a recap of the event (not a review, but more of a factual rundown of the event), please contact us.

Iowa-Minnesota Pirate Fest 2014 recap.

Last weekend was the 3rd annual Iowa-Minnesota Pirate Festival in Clear Lake, Iowa. This event is produced by our publisher, Greg Schmidt of Festivals International, along with his wife, Bonnie.

The event was held at historic P.M. Park in Clear Lake, Iowa. Clear Lake is famous for being the site of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens on February 3, 1959. They had just finished performing at Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom, and there is a memorial at the crash site. (Younger, but still older, readers may be familiar with the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. The day the music died is about this crash. Even younger readers may know the “Weird Al” Yankovic “The Saga Begins” about Star Wars Episode 1, which is a parody of the Don McLean song).

But I digress.

The event was just up from the beach, and located in a park area between the P.M. Park buildings, and the roadway. Visually, the side had many trees and plenty of grass, but most directions showed traffic, buildings and other modern things. It was not an escapist themed festival – but a fun pirate themed weekend in a city park.

There was a dividing rock pathway that separated two sides of the event. The event was fenced in with green snow fencing. One side, nearest the beach (and the restaurant’s Tiki Bar) contained two stages, the mermaid (with her small above ground swimming pool), the Forking Queen’s encampment with children’s games, and various merchants. Across the path were more merchants, a third stage, and a combat/fencing area roped off in the middle.

There were a few food merchants including Humphreys’ Concessions (corndogs,wraps, funnel cakes, and lemonade), the Cone Shop (local ice cream place), flavored popcorn, and a full bar building with swings for seats (operated by the P.M. Park restaurant). The bar made it a very nice pirate event, as Phillip, the singing bartender, was making several versions of grog recipes.

Entertainment featured the Fandazzi Fire Circus from the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Bawdy Buccaneers, Danza Mystique (belly dancers), Flying Eagles Acrobalance, Lord Drake’s Magic, Warwick Pirates, and musical acts Orckes & Trolles and Waxing Gibbous. Various village characters roamed around, including a Jack Sparrow. The Blue Rose Mermaid was a hit with the kids, but she was usually found swimming in her pond, except when she was being escorted around in a decorated wheel chair.

It was a very small event, with maybe two or three dozen tents. Merchandise included jewelry, henna art, chainmaile, and various wood and leather items. There was even a low-cost costume shop, among others. It was a nice representation for such a small event.

A large group of pirates from the Central Iowa Pirate’s Guild invaded on Saturday, helping make that the higher attendance day. Sunday attendance was rather dismal, and the future of the event is in question as the producers decide if it is worth a fourth attempt. It seems folks in Clear Lake are there to hang out at the lake rather than watch pirates swordfight.

You can learn more by visiting the official website at If Greg decides to continue the event in 2015, we will share that news here.

Greater St. Louis Ren Faire joins KCRF & MNRF

A recent Renaissance magazine e-mail mentioned that the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire has been taken over by Mid-America Festivals. Mid-America started the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in 1971, and took over the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in 1999.

As we work at getting this website going again with news and articles, one of the first may look in to some of the history of these three events. There seems to be a lot going on with them right now.