Las Vegas might be the most famous resort city on the planet, but it also offers an array of activities and attractions beyond the glitz and glamor of the strip. Travelers will have little trouble finding things to do from climbing the natural rock formations of Red Rock Canyon to seeing iconic neon signs from the past at the Neon Museum and Boneyard. Las Vegas is truly a one-of-a-kind place. Where else can you go skydiving indoors and after, ride a roller coaster on top of a skyscraper?
The Las Vegas Pirate Fest is a three-day celebration which features a variety of pirate-themed entertainment options, games, activities, and more for the entire family. It will take place April 21-23 at the Craig Ranch Regional Park which is located about nine miles north of The Strip in North Las Vegas. Attendee participation plays a big role, and organizers incorporate it into all the activities and entertainment. Kids in attendance will receive a treasure map which will guide them around the park and highlight fun games. A market area will feature a variety of vendors selling pirate costumes, steampunk trinkets, faerie wings, and more. The Fest supports several local charities and groups including Discovery Museum, Springs Preserve, Paradise Ranch, and Project 150. We got the opportunity to interview Rich Strelak, Producer of the event, to learn more about this unique family-friendly event.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
RS: This is the 5th year of Pirate Fest. The first four years were held at Lorenzi Park in Las Vegas. As the event grew, we made the decision to move to a larger facility at the new Craig Ranch Regional Park in North Las Vegas.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
RS: We estimate 10,000 attendees this year. Last year was a down year as we got a hit with rain and hail all weekend which is almost unheard of in Las Vegas.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
RS: All of the above! It is a family oriented event drawing parents and their kids. Since we focus on pirates, steampunk, and faeries, we get a lot of the cosplayers as participants.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
RS: We follow our unique “legend.” The pirates kept eluding the East India Trading Company (EITC) because they each had a witch on board. The pirates were lured to the West Coast with stories of Spanish gold. Instead, the EITC had an armada lying in wait. A battle ensued, and one of the witches was killed. Being that they were all sisters, they placed a curse to send the pirates, “where they will never smell or taste salt air again,” depositing them here in the desert! The pirates appear each year on the anniversary of the “curse”. The faeries of the realm have told them that if it is a curse, it can be broken. So the crews scourge Pirate Fest looking for their re-incarnated captains to break the curse and return to the sea hopefully! You may be chosen to help break the curse!
RAL: Take me through a day at the event.
RS: The event is participatory! Our motto is “Don’t just watch the pirates, BE the pirate!” Each kid gets a treasure map, and they must follow the map to each red X. There is an activity at each location such as hoisting a sail, learning to sword fight, making a piece of rope, and more. Complete the tasks, and the kids become official Pirates with a Letter of Marque and Pirate Booty! There is a wide selection of games, all of which were created by Pirate Fest. There are stages with entertainment, specialty vendors, food and of course beer and rum!
Sunday features the Zappos’ Cardboard Regatta which takes local businesses, groups, and individuals and has them build boats out of cardboard, duct tape, and glue. They will race the boats across the lake, and trophies will be awarded for the fastest, most creative, people’s choice and Davey Jones Award for the Best Sinking!
RAL: What is the overall environment?
RS: It takes place at the brand new Craig Ranch Regional Park. The festival surrounds the largest lake in the park, where the Regatta happens. Craig Ranch was once a golf course and has some of the oldest stands of trees in the valley. Pirate Fest is designed to take full advantage of the surroundings.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
RS: It is a community oriented festival perfect for families and special interest guilds and cosplayers. It gives people a chance to enter a new “world” for the day or the weekend.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
RS: We utilize many local businesses to provide everything from fencing to power to toilets. The focus of the event for the first five years was to develop a local following. Unlike most festivals, Pirate Fest is part of the community year-round. We participate in different regional events throughout the year, and have taken trophies at almost every parade we enter!
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
RS: We work with the charities Paradise Ranch and Project 150 providing tickets and free booth space to promote their organizations. We invite all the school kids to attend for FREE on Friday! We work with local groups such as the Discovery Museum, and Springs Preserve.
For more information about the Las Vegas Pirate Fest, please visit the event website.