A large influx of pirates is headed to Las Vegas, and they’re not in search of buried treasure.
The second annual Pirate Fest is scheduled for April 25-27 at Lorenzi Park, 3343 W. Washington Ave.
The event is set to include live entertainment, food, games, vendors, booths and even weddings, according to organizer Rich Strelak.
“It’s exciting, it’s neat and it’s different,” Strelak said. “It’s Vegas, so it has to be different.”
A new cardboard regatta contest sponsored by Zappos has been added this year. Participants are permitted to use only cardboard, adhesives and paint to build a vessel that carries its occupants across the park’s lake.
“They’ll be judged on best time, most creative and best sinker,” Strelak said. “(Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow) wanted us to use the new lake, and with Zappos’ help, we were able to make it so there’s no entrance fee.”
Children are set to receive a treasure map upon entry that directs them to themed activities, such as talking like a pirate or walking the plank. Once the activities are completed, they can receive a letter of mark and become an “official pirate,” Strelak said.
“We didn’t want the same old boring games and activities,” he said, “so we created games that tied back into the pirate theme.”
Henderson resident Penelope Pendragon, the Wishing Faery, joined the Pirate Fest last year to teach children about positive mental attitudes using stories about fairies, trolls and goblins.
“I have the Wish Wagon,” Pendragon said. “It teaches people how to get their wishes to come true. It does work, and I can prove it. I have people come back and tell me it works because of the formula I use.”
Pendragon has been involved with local festivals for about 13 years, including the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival and the Boulder City Renaissance Faire.
“I like the fantasy-based festivals because we do our best to get people involved,” Pendragon said. “They’re more curious that way, and it brings out their good energy.”
After hosting haunted houses for 15 years, Strelak came up with the idea of the festival after noticing that pirates’ costumes are typically among the most popular.
“We did it mainly because everyone loves pirates,” Strelak said. “We bring in some history with it but use a lot of fantasy.”
Strelak also created a legend to explain how there could be pirates in the desert.
“More than 400 years ago, the East India Trading Company tried to wipe out all the pirates, but they couldn’t catch up to three known as Trey Diablo,” Strelak said. “So, they tried to lure them with Spanish gold and have an armada waiting for them.”
The legend continues with three witch sisters who protect the pirates from the armada, but two end up casting a spell on the pirates when one sister is killed in battle.
“The witches drop them in the middle of the desert, where they would never smell or taste salt-air again,” Strelak said. “However, any time there’s a curse, there’s a way to break the curse.”
Throughout the festival, pirate characters are set to search for items and attendees to help break the curse at the end of the night with a big chant.
“A lot of the events here in town are just observatory. You go in and watch things,” Strelak said. “We want our attendees to get up and be involved. Our motto is, ‘Don’t just watch the pirates, be a pirate.’
“We’ve made an alternative reality. Once you step inside, you leave the normal world and enter our world.”
The festival is set to be open from noon to 7:30 p.m. April 25, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 26 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 27. Adults pay $12 for general admission and $20 for a three-day pass. Seniors, military service members and children ages 5 to 12 pay $8 for general admission or $15 for a three-day pass. Children 4 or younger get in free.
For more information, visit piratefestlv.com.
Contact Southwest View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.