Creating Magic Through Fire

Welcome to Cap’n Nemo’s Flaming Carnival

By creating theater, art, and magic through fire, and by including you in that experience, we aim to inspire people to become a part of the magic in our everyday lives, to create magic and wonder.

Cap’n Nemo’s Flaming Carnival is a dedicated group of artists, engineers, and performers that provide inspiration, education, and entertainment.

What We Do

The Carnival is an interactive experience – a performance and event-based fire circus!  We have fire-based games, like Loki the flaming clown beanbag toss, the High Striker, Flaming Skeeball, Ping Pong of Doom and more.   We often work with performers of all types – fire spinners, aerialists, circus performers of all stripes, burlesque, and DJ’s or live music.  The Carnival provides the venue, opening a space for many more to get involved.

By day, our midway (an idea from the Chicago 1896 World’s Fair) offers family-friendly games like Zap! (an electric ring-toss), Life-sized Co-Operation, our Fortune Telling booth, balloons, popcorn or cotton candy, giant bubbles, face-painting, even fun workshops.

Our Team

Most of our core team has worked together for years on a variety of large scale projects, both professionally and personally.  We have taken art to and participated in Burning Man, and smaller satellite events affiliated with Burning Man (e.g. Lakes of Fire, Interfuse, etc).  We have built and operated a 30’+ long fire breathing dragon, and have operated it on the Chicago River, as well as part of Chicago Venetian Night 2013, and many times at Lakes of Fire (an event with thousands of attendees).

Some of our key members include: Neil Verplank, Blake Kuralt, Shirley Myers, Andrea North, and Ron Sheely.

Fire Safety

Fire is exciting precisely because it can be dangerous, and the Carnival takes this responsibility seriously. We inspect and repair all our components every year as a matter of course; we pressure test each of our effects to twice their expected operating pressure; and we thoroughly check every component of our system prior to every performance.  Each effect has an manual ¼-turn shutoff valve, an emergency stop button, key lock-outs where needed, and fire extinguishers (ABC and water-based) within 15’ of each  effect.  All effects have a perimeter ranging from 15’ – 30’, or as deemed appropriate by the AHJ.   All effects are FAST-compliant, and we strive to keep every part of our system NFPA 160 compliant (Group I) as well.

Our Footprint

We take seriously our responsibility to “Leave No Trace” – to leave a place better than we found it if we can.  Everyone is tasked with site upkeep; prior to departure, we walk a 1 meter grid to confirm we have left no trace of our presence to the best of our ability.

The Carnival burned ~750 Gallons of propane in 2016, producing about as much CO2 as a large SUV does over a year (about 6 tons).  While we do hope that we provide more benefit, and more entertainment than an SUV, for a great many more people, we have also begun to purchase carbon offsets each year, about twice what we generate, as a first step.  We hope to be more involved in fostering this kind of investment over time.


Here are the past and future events from Cap’n Nemo’s Flaming Carnival. Come join us, and be part of the fun!

We are coming to ArtPrize! From September 20 through October 8, we will be outside the City Water Building and the Richard App Gallery in the parking lot along the river at 1101 Monroe Avenue NW (maybe a map / map link?). You’re welcome to explore any day, we will have family-friendly fun and various workshops Tuesday through Friday afternoon; entertainment, fire and games Wednesday through Saturday night. See our full schedule [here – link], come by and see what we’re up to, or get involved – link to below] in the fun!

Our ArtPrize Entry:


Get Involved

Create and Build

We meet almost every week in Chicago to work on the Carnival, sometimes we have work weekends in Southwest Michigan, and we welcome new folks.  It’s a chance to learn new skills, make new things, and be a part of an ongoing endeavor.  We work with metal, with wood, with electronics, we paint and silkscreen and letterpress – in short, we make all our art!  Contact us to get on our mailing list and find out more.

Perform and Volunteer

We can’t do what we do without you.  Many of our outings are part of larger not-for-profit events (Maker Faires, civic celebrations, art events in the parks), and are staffed by volunteers who want to help make the magic happen.  When performance is part of the event, we work with local performers, outside folks and other groups to activate our space.  If you’d like to get involved, including at Grand Rapids in September, fill out our volunteer form, or our performer volunteer form, and we’ll work to get you involved!

Organize and Fundraising

A big part of what we do is behind the scenes – keeping track of inventory, arranging logistics for performances, finding and scheduling volunteers, and bashing on spreadsheets.  We regularly write grants and seek outside sources of funding.  If this sort of work is up your alley, we’d love to hear from you!

Education and Advocacy

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Ghandi

We have been inspired by others to pursue our art. Sharing what we’ve learned, and getting others involved is important to us. If you have skills you’d like to share, or are interested in teaching a workshop, we’d [like to know – link to contact us]! If you’re involved in project or are producing an event where we can collaborate, we’d like to hear about it!

Contact Us!

Stay in touch, get involved, offer feedback, or inquire about booking us – we’re listening!  You’re welcome to follow us on Facebook , or on Instagram, or contact us directly on the form below.