Category Archives: Event Recap

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.


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.