The Spoutwood Farm Fairie Festival takes place Friday through Sunday on a weekend close to May 1, in Glen Rock PA, on a sprawling, hilly farm. Whether you’re like me and value the whimsy of such an event for your kids to enjoy, or you like cosplay or all things natural, artsy, woodsy or fantasy, this is a unique festival that appeals for a variety of reasons.
My Kids’ Favorites
We’ve gone many times now in about 8 years, with kids at different ages, but these things rise to the top:
The Maypole and bubbles: The kids participate in wrapping the brightly colored ribbons and a bubble machine turns the scene iridescent.
This year, the bubble machine was not in this area, but I don’t know why–if it was a conscious choice or if the rain made conditions unfavorable for getting the bubble machine in that location?? The machine was instead at a crossroads of a walkway, and my kids enjoyed it, but it wasn’t nearly as magical.
I love these faces, in photos form a few years back, of my boys chasing those bubbles!
The Maze. In the woods, with twisting winding paths, five different fairies are hidden. (They are images on a board, each a different color. A small receptacle is mounted there with some sort of chalky substance, and the idea is that kids stick a finger in this to get that color on one of their digits, to prove they found that faerie.)
Here’s my daughter, later in the day, still holding her hand upturned so she won’t lose her fairy dust on each finger!
(Note, one purpose of the colors on fingertips is so that you can get your fortune after you exit the maze; a large board showing all the possible color combinations/orders gives maze-goers their fortune. If that is not something that floats your boat, it’s easy to skip that application. The festival also features tarot card readers and other things of that spiritual bent.)
This year, each fairy had a frame hung in the woods. (I guess my girl just wanted to be silly. Never got a better picture.)
In previous years, the opening section of this maze featured a collection of various random items that could be played s percussive instruments. My kids loved beating on pots, scraping washerboards, etc.
This year, that was gone, but little “houses” made kid-sized were new to us. For instance, one had an old woodstove with a pot on it, under a gathering of branches. The little “room” featured a book shelf with bricks painted as books and tree stumps painted in bright colors for seats.
There was an un-tea party house, a mermaid’s cove, and various gnome habitats hidden throughout the woods. The kids loved the wonder of looking for what they may find around every corner.
Frodo’s Hut Observatory. This little one-room house fully-furnished and cozy always fascinates the kids. A portion of the wall is behind glass so you can see the hut was constructed of straw and plastered over with clay. Of course, my kids are quick to point out that “the real” Frodo’s house would really have a round door!
The hut is a curiosity, but it is also a very cozy, quiet place to rest a bit. One of my boys found a new friend this year who did the maze with him, so then he taught the boy chess.
Inside, this year, a woman was playing a handpan instrument, which enchanted my daughter. One thing I love I that this is a place where children will find friendly adults who are eager/willing to show them their instruments or other aspects of thrir art.
Fairy and Gnome Habitats. You can take a tour or go on your own, which we’ve always done. This is a favorite, every year. Kids/families are invited before the festival to create thee little homes, and it is different every year. The kids are always enchanted by the tiny furniture and the various ways the landscape and flora and fauna are used to created tiny homes. In recent years, a couple of people back in the woods along the path created balloon animals for kids, and that’s always a hit with mine.
Puppet Shows: Going on the free-for-kids Friday, you did miss a good portion of the programming. In previous years, we’ve seen a puppet show featuring a dragon. This year, those were only for the Saturday/Sunday program. BUT–the biggest hit with my daughter this year was something we didn’t even know about–we just literally stumbled upon it. We saw a bunch of girls sitting in the grass and investigated. We found a woman singing and telling a story with tiny, handmade felt and wood puppets, some marionettes. I wish a I had a good detail picture, but my girl said she loved this short treat better than all else.
Play. Even the boy who’d thought he might have outgrown the festival found that he loved “everything” in the end, though his favorite parts were the play areas. The big tractor tire play area with rope swings is always a hit. I wish I had a picture just a few frames before that final one of my boy on the tire swing; it took four kids to get him up in the air so he could swing down. They were all girls, and they all took turns pulling on a long rope to haul the tire to one side so that when they let go, the swinger could fly to the other side. Seeing kids who are strangers mount teamwork–as it was the only way anyone could experience the ride–is pretty neat.
Costumes: My kids love the elves, woodsprites, gnomes, hobbits, fawns, satyrs, gypsies, to name a few of the costumed entities we’ve witnessed there–some festival personnel, but also the attendees. In the past my kids have dressed up as everything from a fairy to Robin Hood.
Disappointments this year. These were few, but to mention:
No Complimentary Fairy Wings: they used to be complimentary to every guest. A tent was set up where kids would pick their color and a custom-made pair of tulle fairy wings with elastic arms were made for each kid. That no longer exists, at least on the Friday we were there. My daughter was all ready to get her wings, color chosen out and all…. Many different vendors were selling wings though–just no freebie ones. (Below, my son, wearing his white wings to play on the tire playground.)
No animals: in previous years, my kids pet llamas and other animals, rode a horse, etc. This year we saw none on Friday.
The Fairy Tea Party. I’d never gone to that in previous years with the boys or when my girl was too young to care, but I’d always wanted to see what it was like, thinking my girl would love it. I imagined the tea and cookies served took place maybe at little tables and chairs in whimsically decorated tent with women dressed up as fairies interacting with them, telling stories. We went this year, but it was different from I expected. Cups of juice and a tray of cookies were laid out on an oblong table, and people with some sort of understated costuming handed them out. You could walk away and eat them or try to find a place to stand next to the road to eat/drink them. It wasn’t an experience that I expected. But that was just my expectation–it’s not something advertised and not done. (But what an opportunity missed that someone could do! This place is rollicking with little girls.)
Now, for the practical Mom opinion
- The festival is free for kids on Fridays. Adult are $20, so taking kids free on that day makes it more affordable.
- It’s run by a farm that raises organic food (a cause near and dear to my heart).
- They not only care about sustainable living, they model it. Their “trash” system includes three options: compostable (and that includes the plastic and silverware all food vendors use), recyclable, and (smallest) trash. In fact, the day before I went this year, I happened to meet the woman who heads up this system and she told me about how it’s evolved over the years–and how one year, the workers actually hand-sorted the trash into those piles!
- The food. I always go for the food, but this is a place I know I can count on some better choices. From organic granola (I know–how cliche) to hemp pretzels, fermented foods, smoothies and bowls of fresh fruit. (They have funnel cakes, ice cream and french fires too–they just have different options than most places.)
- Nursing tent, places to change diapers, and little play areas for toddlers that give kids a safe place to play with boundaries. Sandboxes and sand toys and chalkboards are some items I’ve seen featured.
7. Music. Maybe if my kids were older, I’d hear more than mere strains and have time to appreciate the variety of bands all three days–plus on Saturday and Sunday, Celtic and other types of dance troupes perform. I list this as something I appreciate, though I’ve honestly not really had much time to appreciate such a thing yet!
8. Costumed personalities. The faire is littered with costumed characters ready to converse with the kids and bring them into this fantasy world. This year we saw some kind of magician on one of the paths who was talking a lot about different types of gnomes and magic tricks. In previous years, I remember a fairy who interacted with the moss man, which my boys loved:
A gypsy lady was telling fairy stories, pockets fairies gave kids tokens with a story every year (girls got a ring and boys got fairy spy glasses this year), and–my girl’s favorite–a mermaid with a shimmering blue tale sat on a rock wall. (My camera was not cooperating, or I’d show you a picture of my girl mesmerized.)
Things to Consider:
Rain. It’s the beginning of May. I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that this will be a rain or mud festival, no two ways about it. Multiple years , I did not go because the weather was too bad. This year, I gave up too. It was storming all night and all morning. but then–inexplicably–the storms stopped and the forecast said nothing more would happen for the afternoon! So I took my kids in a spur-of-the-moment change of mind, even though it meant we missed two hours by the time I managed to get ourselves together and drive there.
So anyway, we know to put on our feet only what we want to get really muddy.
Strollers. First time, I took a stroller. We survived, but it’s really the worst place to take a stroller. It is hilly, and when you combine that with rain, which makes sucking, slurping mud, a stroller is not a help, but rather a heavy thing you have to heave around. The picture below shows that by the time I had my daughter, I’d ditched the stroller, even though it’s nice to have a place to put things, not just the baby!
If you have been there, what is your favorite part bout the Spoutwood Farm Fairie Festival?