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Monday, October 28, 2013

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Blair Marina

Nebraska's Blair Marina restaurant.

This month population-we™ (pop-we) foodie Marv decided we would head north near the Missouri River to dine at the Blair Marina. Located at East Highway, Blair, Neb., follow Highway 30 east till you reach Marina Drive (coming from the west), take a right head south. You will see a small building on the right side of the road. Since opening in 1959, the restaurant has been a bait shop surrounded by four lakes stocked with fish. The marina has also seen two longhorn steers, buffalo and bears housed on the property.

When you arrive, you walk into a lobby where there are a few benches with old pictures on the wall showing the history of the area. One picture that caught my attention was a picture of a train bridge with a caption that talked about how they tested the strength of a new bridge. It said by driving back and forth across the bridge adding cars to the train on each pass. I thought this was comical to think compared to today’s standards, but back then that was standard practice. The dining area looks unchanged since opening, with moderate wall decorations and a dimly lit atmosphere.

Looking over the menu, I decided on a steak for dinner that came with a salad, potato and vegetable. It was a nice size steak cooked to my liking, a good medium temp. My meal I enjoyed, well seasoned and tasty. However, in talking with the rest of the group, it seemed everyone that ordered a steak enjoyed their meal; those that ordered something else seemed less than pleased. My wife had ordered the coconut shrimp. When the shrimp was brought out you could tell that it was over cooked. Instead of the golden brown you would expect--it was a very dark brown. If you do try the Marina, I would highly recommend the steak, as our waitress would not even recommend the chicken.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Bair Marina a 3.44 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Atmosphere/Decor – 3.14

Steak and hash brown dinner.
Cleanliness – 3

Wait Staff – 3.85

Menu – 3.42

Food Presentation – 3

Food Portions – 3.85

Food Taste – 3.57

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.57

Noise Level – 3.7

Overall Experience – 3.28

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to Blair Marina leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.
Blair Marina on Urbanspoon

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Blogger Husband & Wife Partake in Omaha's Annual Benson Zombie Walk

Recently my husband and I got our picture taken quite a bit. Even at the time, Brian remarked: "We haven't gotten our picture taken this much since our wedding!" So, now we truly know what it is like to be stalked by novice photographers and paparazzi. However, in our case it was our intention, along with thousands of willing participants at the 2013 Benson Zombie Walk in Omaha, Neb.

The previous year, Brian and I attended the zombie walk, but as observers. We were the one's snapping pictures with our cameras and iPhones. Whisked away with the zombie hysteria, I folded and allowed myself to become a victim at last year's zombie walk. Read about it at A Victim's Account from Benson's Zombie Walk Omaha 2012. However, on Oct. 19th, we chose to be full-fledged zombie walkers at the 2013 Benson Zombie Walk. Numerous Benson area businesses co-sponsored festivities, but the Nydm-nedm (NYDM) Nebraska Chapter volunteered their time on this Saturday to staff make up areas and pass around donation buckets. Proceeds from the sixth annual event went to the Sienna Francis House, a homeless shelter located in downtown Omaha.

The Undead. Here I am pictured with another zombie walker.
The zombie walk wasn't the only activity taking place in downtown Benson, but it was the only free one. In fact, there is no charge to participate in the Benson Zombie Walk. The street by Jake's Cigars & Spirits was closed off and street vendors were there to entice zombie walkers and onlookers with food and games. For an admission price, a band, costume contest and Dr. San Guinary's Zombikini contest, all took place immediately after at the The Waiting Room Lounge.

Overall, the 2013 Benson Zombie Walk was fun--but a bit exhausting. Be warned, this walk is not for very little kids or for people with walking issues. The route they take you down is a little ways down the road. To begin, the horde walks down an alley and emerges to several professional photographers and videographers. Next, the zombie horde moves along down the street cutting through the Great Western Bank parking lot. Cars passing by on Military Avenue slow down in amazement. We witnessed an ambulance announce over the load speakers, "brains!" This got an immediate reaction from zombie walkers. At the halfway point, we crossed over an overpass and journeyed the rest of the way via Military Avenue and Maple Street to downtown Benson. The zombie walkers' final destination, The Waiting Room Lounge.

The organizers warned us zombie participants before the walk that there were a lot of professional photographers on hand. He told everyone to be in character. I can equate being the undead to being an animal in the zoo. Everybody is looking at you and taking pictures. Zombie walkers and onlookers are in very close proximity. People lined the sidewalks and we literally walked between them. I found it the easiest to scare the little kids; especially, with a cold stare or zombie, "Raaarrrr!" Feeling guilty, I would wink back at the little kiddos, at the very end. One little girl we came upon was so frightened, she had wedged herself behind her dad and the building her family was perched in front of. Her two siblings, however, were grinning from ear-to-ear as we passed by. The best horde action to note, came in front of Jiffy Lube. A worker sat on top of the shop's sign; unbeknownst to him, within an instant he caught the eye of some zombies on the sidewalk. Kind of eerily, just like in the movies, all the undead clambered to try and get some of his brains. Moaning and jumping after him--who was just out of reach--it was a true sight to see!

How do you know if your costume is good? In our case, everyone wanted our picture. A couple zombie pats on the back are in order for The Brown's and our volunteer make up artists. We followed the instructions laid out on the Zombie Walk Omaha website, which Brian and I noticed most did not, and dressed as "zombie vikings." We pieced our outfits together after stops to Goodwill and Fairytail Costumes and Rental. The final touch to our zombie transformation was our makeup. Like most, we took advantage of the make up artists provided by the event. They had two locations available, and we picked The Pizza Shoppe. For $3 a piece donation, The Brown's were transformed to The Viking Zombie Brown's (see video below).

The Brown's have the look down; now we had to play the part. Here's some tips on how to walk like a zombie. Remember slow is good! No "World World Z" zombies in this walk. Dragging a foot, slumping your shoulders, moaning and bouncing off of your zombie buddy works. Like I said, it was exhausting! Staggering like a zombie, my hip started to hurt and Brian commented afterwards that his knee bugged him. If you aren't a fan of crowds, stay home! The 2013 zombie walk garnered more than 5,000 people, including both walkers and onlookers. All-in-all, I do recommend attending--it was for a good cause and was cheap family fun.

My advice to picture takers in attendance next year, don't say "cheese" to a hoarde of zombies--if you really want that true zombie stare say "b-r-a-i-n-s," instead.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Local Omaha Artists Exhibit Compassion with Annual Somethin' Else Fall Art Show

With the crispness in the air and trees changing colors, it feels like football season in these parts. However, for some area shoppers it is also the start of another season. You'll see signs popping up to alert passers-by of the fact, it's officially craft show season!

I have fond memories of attending fall craft shows with my aunt, mom and cousin. There is nothing more fulfilling than purchasing a handmade item from a local crafter or artist. In fact, some of the original works of art that litter our home's walls and shelves are my most cherished pieces. Since I'm a fashionista at heart, I'm always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind handmade pieces of jewelry, too. population-we™ readers also in the market for an art craft show are in luck. Attend the third annual Somethin' Else Fall Show on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission if free, and this year's show will be held at Residences at One Pacific Place Clubhouse, 1365 S. 101 St., in Omaha, Ne. The following items will be for sale: art glass, acrylic paintings, jewelry and fabric art.

According to local artist and  owner of Adventure In Art, Kristi Pederson, "It really is an art show as opposed to a craft show since many of us are full-time artists." 

Pederson's works will also be for sale. She is an Omaha artist who specializes in art glass and acrylic paint works. Pederson notes: anything that can be translated into glass is fair game! Her custom designs, which have been shown at many galleries and stores from coast-to-coast, are inspired from everyday things. Most notably, Pederson was featured on HGTV’s That’s Clever! creating a one-of-a-kind glass fusion clock.

Pederson said, "Peg Watkins will be doing painting and fused glass. Becky Noble will be doing fabric art, Darlynn Myers will be doing jewelry and I will be doing painting and fused glass." 

In the spirit of community, the participating artists are pleased to announce a portion of sales will go towards local non-profit, Compassion Omaha. "Compassion Omaha was founded just more than a year ago in July 2012. We believe the art show benefits on many levels; when people purchase our art they are supporting 'Buying Local.' With every sale each artist donates 20 percent to Compassion Omaha," she said. "Compassion Omaha is a community-based organization dedicated to engaging, inspiring and educating through activities and events that foster active compassion toward all beings, including nonviolence, tolerance and acceptance and universal responsibility, transcending religious and political affiliations."

Pederson got involved with Compassion Omaha in April 2013. "It’s not really a membership organization. You can just participate as you wish and live your life according to their mission," she said.

Besides the upcoming October fall art show the organization sponsored an art show for the Tibetan Monks at the OM Center in Omaha this past August and September. Pederson's all-time favorite Compassion Omaha event so far, which took place last April, was 5 days of Compassion (What does compassion look like?).

Anyone can get involved by liking Compassion Omaha on Facebook or going to Remember you can show your support Oct. 19th by purchasing gifts for others or indulge yourself with a little Somethin' Else; all while supporting area artists and buying local.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Third Annual Halloween with a Heart Haunts

When one thinks of Halloween they usually don't equate it to giving. In the Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan area many attractions this year have partnered with local charities. Some Halloween haunts are collecting items for their local food banks and others are donating a portion of their proceeds to a designated charity. Some area nonprofits are even getting into the Halloween spirit by offering spooky attractions. Still looking for that perfect pumpkin? A few area churches are also selling pumpkins this year for what organizers are calling "Pumpkins for a Cause." Proceeds go to missionary work and operating costs for these area churches.
Here's a list of what a couple population-we™ staffers are calling "Halloween with a Heart." Visit often for updates:

Now through Halloween
- Mystery Manor, 716 N 18th St., Omaha, NE
Mystery Manor, Omaha's oldest haunted house. Built in 1887, it has been widely rumored that the ghost of William Hall still wanders these halls every October waiting for strangers to come so that he might resume his terrible vengeance upon any soul who enters Hall Manor. To this day, the murder of John Martin remains a mystery – hence the name "Mystery Manor." Supports Matt's Dream Foundation.
Details: General admission is $12 and Fast Manor Pass is $20. Every Wednesday, Oct. 2, 9 and 16th is buy one and get one free admission. Dates and times vary check website.
More info: and coupons available at:

- Big Red Barn and Pumpkin Farm, 132nd Street and Bennington Road, Bennington, NE
Activities include pumpkin patch, corn maze, straw or hay bale maze, child-sized hay bale maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, pony rides, face-painting, music, petting zoo, snacks and refreshment stand.
Details: For a nominal donation, stop by the patch and pick out your favorite pumpkin. Hours are Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
More info: 402.238.2696 or

- Cobweb Castle: The Omaha Children's Museum, 500 S. 20th St., Omaha, NE 
Cobweb Castle: The Not-So-Scary-Haunted-House, Omaha Children's Museum G-Rated Haunted House, offers a maze of the Ghostly Graveyard; creepy trees in the Twisted Tombstone Maze; the Castle's Pirates Parlor, Kooky Kitchen, Knight's Dining Room and Vampire's Batty Bedroom. 
Details: Admission is free with regular museum admission. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
More info:

Every weekend throughout Nov. 3:
- Corn Maze: Camp Fontanelle, 9677 County Road 3, Fontanelle, NE
Come get lost in a nine-acre giant corn maze, which is in its seventh year of operation. Plan at one-hour in the maze, then stay for other attractions: petting animals, pony rides, lawn games and camp fires. Pumpkins available with donations.
Details: 12 years of age and older $6; Kids three to 11 years of age $4. Open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 6-30:
Pumpkins for a Cause, First United Methodist Church, 7020 Cass St., Omaha, NE
The pumpkin patch is open to the public on the front lawn of First United Methodist Church.
Details: Admission $7 per person. Children ages two and younger are free. Funds go towards First United Methodist Church youth programs. Weekdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m.
More info: or 402.238.2696.

Oct. 17-24:
- Healthy Trick-Or-Treat Nights: The Omaha Children's Museum, 500 S. 20th St., Omaha, NE 
Omaha Children's Museum annual G-Rated Haunted House will offer "Healthy Trick-Or-Treat Nights." Enjoy this healthy spin on the classic trick-or-treating tradition with yummy things to eat provided by Whole Foods Market and fun goodies from Oriental Trading Company. Help the museum be green, bring your own trick-or-treating basket or bag. This event is free with admission to Cobweb Castle: The Not-So-Scary-Haunted-House.
Details: Admission is free with regular museum admission. 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 11-12:
- Haunted Safari: Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari, 16406 292 St., Ashland, NE (located off Nebraska’s I-80, Exit 426) 
Participants are invited to wear costumes. All evening outdoor activities will include a meal, roasted marshmallows, a haunted hike, ghostly games and  a spooky ride.
Details: Reservations are required. Admission is $15 for Wildlife Safari Park and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium members and $20 for non-members. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
More info: or 402.738.2092.

Oct. 18-20 & 26-27:
- Spooktacular: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St., Omaha, NE 
Find out what happens at the zoo after hours? The evening includes admission to Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium when the sun goes down. Activities include Boo Bowling, trick-or-treating and Penguin-Pickin-Apples. Get up close and personal with animals used for educating visitors and the zoo's Animal Ambassadors
Details: Admission is $7 for Omaha's Zoo and Aquarium members and $8 for non-members (children two and under are free). 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
More info: or 402.738.2038.

Oct. 19, 25 & 26:
- Haunted Maze: Camp Fontanelle, 9677 County Road 3, Fontanelle, NE
Come get lost in a haunted nine-acre giant corn maze in the dark. Plan at one-hour in the maze, and stay for campfires afterwards. Pumpkins available with donations.
Details: 12 years of age and older $6; Kids three to 11 years of age $4. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 23-26:
- The Haunted Trail: Glenn Cunningham Lake, Campground Entrance No. 10, 96th and State St., Omaha, NE 
Take an escorted tour and learn about the strange happenings that have taken place by the lake. All while along the trail hikers will encounter frightful scenes and characters. 
Details: Admission: $13 for adults ($10 with three can food donations); $8 for kids six to 12 years old ($5 with three can food donations). Free for children under five years old.  5 p.m. to 10:20 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 26:
- Trick-or-Treat-Trail: Glenn Cunningham Lake, Campground Entrance No. 10, 96th and State St., Omaha, NE 
All day activities for kids and families such as costume contest, face painting, candy scare-stations and rock wall.
Details: Admission: $8 for adults ($5 with three can food donations); $5 for kids six to 12 years old ($3 with three can food donations). Free for children under five years old. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 26
- Omaha's Great Pumpkin: Village Pointe Shopping Center, 17151 Davenport St., Omaha, NE
Join Lutheran Family Services where hundreds of pumpkins will be carved making up Nebraska’s largest pumpkin display -- Omaha's Great Pumpkin. Each pumpkin will represent a foster care children waiting for a good home in Nebraska. 
Details: Free. 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Shining the light” celebration at 7 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 26
- Halloween Fun Day: Village Pointe Shopping Center, 17151 Davenport St., Omaha, NE
Children put on your costumes and join us for fun Halloween games, face painting and candy. It’s about safe, friendly Halloween trick or treating at the stores and restaurants of Village Point. 
Details: Free. 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 26-30:
- Boo at the Zoo: Lincoln Children's Zoo, 1222 S. 27th St., Lincoln, NE 
Lincoln's largest trick-or-treat event and annual fundraiser for the zoo, which offers more than 40 kid-friendly trick-or-treating booths. 
Details: Admission is free for members and $6 for non-members (free for children under 2); $3 extra for trick-or-treat bags; $2 for a train ride and $5 for Raising Canes meal (proceeds going to the zoo). 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
More info: Buy tickets in at advance at or 402.475.6741.

Oct. 27
- Pet Costume Contest: McKenna's Blues Booze & BBQ, 7425 Pacific St., Omaha, NE
Pet Costume Contest fundraiser for the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS). Pets must be in costume; however, costumes for humans are optional. Participants can win the following McKenna's gift cards: $25 - Best in Show; $20 - Cutest Costume; $20 - Most Creative Costume and $20 - Best Matching Owner & Pet Costumes. Dogs must be controlled by a standard leash (not retractable or flexible) and owners must clean up after pets (bags will be provided).
Details: The entry fee is $5. All proceeds go to the NHS. 1 to 4 p.m.
More info: 402.393.RIBS (7427).

Oct. 27
- Annual Enchanted Forest: Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa
Costumes welcome! Meet one of your favorite Eric Carle characters in the forest. After the hike, visitors can enjoy refreshments, apple bobbing, pumpkin painting and carving (while supplies last).
Details: The cost is $10 per family. 1 to 3 p.m.
More info: or 712.328.5834.

*If we missed your organization we apologize. This an annual list, contact either of the population-we™ Bloggers below this time next year to be included.

So, this Halloween pint size ghouls and goblins will not be the only one's receiving gifts this Halloween season. The gift of giving has infiltrated this hauntingly fun time of the year, which is definitely population-we™ news worth reporting about. Whether you're looking for that perfect pumpkin to carve, a place for date night or to take the kids--why not patronize one of these "Halloween with a Heart" haunts.

- population-we blog post by *Brian Brown and *Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC
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