Thursday, August 4, 2011

World of Faeries flies back into Elgin

Fairies are cool.
Look at Sookie Stackhouse on the hit show “True Blood.” She may be a psychic waitress with a penchant for attracting vampires, but she’s also a fairy.
And then there’s Tinkerbell — she’s been rockin’ it fairy-style ever since she turned up in J. M. Barrie’s novel “Peter and Wendy” 100 years ago. Then there’s the Nickelodeon series “Winx Club,” an animated show about fairies.
Strap on your glitter wings and lace up your prettiest shoes — the World of Faeries Festival returns to Vasa Park in South Elgin. The hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 6 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 7.
It’s here you will find music, food and frivolity for fairy lovers and fantasy lovers, young and old, in Vasa Park along the Fox River. This family-friendly event is also a vendor village showcasing fairy and fantasy crafts. There will be hair braiding, body glitter, and jewelry and clothing vendors.
Fest-goers are encouraged to dress to fit the fantasy them, and to leave their “grown up” at home, said found Gloria Yaeger of Crystal Lake. With her husband David, they founded the World of Faeries Festival in 2004, after traveling to the country’s oldest fairy festival at Spoutwood Farm, Glen Rock, Pa.
Shortly after that, the couple was bike riding around Vasa Park when they noticed a sign saying that the park was for rent.
“We decided to create our own Faerie Fest,” she said. “The first year, we had 300 people show up. Last year, we had nearly 1,200. This year, we have 80 percent of our vendors come back. The families come back, and it’s by word of mouth. They spread it to other families, and it grows bigger every year.”
This year’s theme is a Celebration of the Elven Star. The Elven star, or faerie star, has seven points, and this is the festival’s seventh year.
She encourages everyone to dress up in their best fairy costumes. In the beginning, people were hesitant to dress up, but now most people come in costume, she said.
“It’s nice to see that, people dressing up in costumes,” she said. “It’s gotten to be very festive. Everybody should have magic in their lives and be young at heart. We all need a little magic in our lives. And it’s a beautiful old park next to the Fox River; it’s a very magical setting.”
No costume? No problem. One vendor creates hand-made fairy wings.
There will be Celtic music, folk music and a Native American drummer from New Mexico, to name a few of the entertainers.
“We always try to encourage new entertainers and fantasy artists,” she said.
There will be a storyteller, a living statue, French braid hair braiding by Twisted Sisters, raptors, bubble juggler Geoff Akins and the group Swords of Valor.
“Swords of Valor are a very popular traveling Renaissance group,” she said. “It is un-choreographed (swordplay) with real swords.”
They bring along soft “Q-Tip”-like swords for kids to spar with.
Another highlight of the festival is the fairy tea parties. There are four or five each day for little girls, plus mother-daughter tea parties, since “moms wanted to get in on the act, too.”
Yaeger didn’t expect the festival to grow into what it’s become, although she hoped it would.
“I think it’s terrific. I’m pleasantly pleased it’s become so popular,” she said. “Fairies are not a fad. Magic has always been around. It has a life of its own that will continue. A little magic in your life goes a long ways. It helps you stay young. We’re all kids at heart.”

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