I was looking at my calendar the other day, going through and highlighting the weekends I was going to be out of town or weddings, festivals, conventions and the like. The proposed con season has shrunk a little, simply due to funds and other events that will be taking place this year. For example, our original plans to attend Polaris again this year have been stalled due to budgetary constraints arising from attending a friend’s wedding in Maine the month before. I’m not complaining, though. I’ve never been to Maine (or New Hampshire, where we’ll be staying) and I’m really looking forward to Courtney’s wedding. It’ll be fun! I’m planning on wearing my cherry blossom dress. Hmm….gotta find new shoes that are a bit more comfortable for standing in all day.
Despite our previous decision to forgo future trips to Shore Leave, Maggie and I will probably be returning to it again this year. As I’ve mentioned before my sister is going to be coming with us to Dragon*Con this year. She’s never been to a convention before and Maggie and I figure it would be best to sort of ease her in to the whole thing. After all, we were old hats at con-going and we were a bit overwhelmed on the first day of Dragon*Con. So we’re probably going to take a day trip up to Shore Leave so Heather can get a taste of what she’ll experience down in Atlanta.
I’d love to go up to Balticon for a day, as well, but that probably won’t happen – again, because of funds running low. The sole reason I want to go is because Tanya Huff is this year’s author Guest of Honor. I met her up at Polaris one year and she’s wonderfully nice and funny.
Even the dogs get dressed up!
The next big thing on the horizon, costume-wise, is the Spoutwood Farms Fairie Fest. I’ve lost count of how many years we’ve been going. I think this year might be…the fifth? Hm. That sounds like it might be about right. It would have been the sixth but Costume Con happened to be based up in Maryland last year, on the same weekend as Fairie Fest, and Maggie and I decided to take advantage of its location.
Fairie Fest differs from the other events we go to throughout the year. While we go in costume, our costumes tend to be less defined and more slap-dash, most of the time. We basically take a huge bag full of our various costume bits – corsets, shirts, bodices, skirts, cloaks, etc. – and pull things out to mix and match. Or mix and not match. It’s a fairie festival, after all. Things don’t
A fairy dining area, spotted at Spoutwood Farms
have to be perfect. The big thing is to be comfortable. The festival is held on a huge community farm – called Spoutwood Farms – and you spend the day wandering over hill, over dale, through brush, through briar, over park, over pale…basically you wander everywhere. Not so much through blood or fire, though. That would be awful.
Oh, and extra points if you know what that’s from.
The festival is generally more laid-back than any of the Renaissance festivals we go to. Sure, there are schedules for some of the performances but they don’t always start or end on time and you just sort of wander through the area and mill about, listening to some awesome music or watching folks dancing. There are drum circles where anyone who has any kind of percussion instrument is free to pull up some grass (not literally but, you know…) and bang on a drum to their heart’s content. There’s a maze off in the woods where you paint your fingers different colors with pastels and, when you come out of the maze, you compare the colors on your hand to those on a board and find your fortune for the day. It’s kind of like an interactive fortune cookie.
In addition to craft and food vendors there are a bunch of tents with exhibits and information about green living, organic farming, various animals, etc. There’s usually a tent about an area greyhound rescue and a section where you can see llamas and alpacas. There’s also a wonderful observatory up on one of the hills called Frodo’s Eye. I would love to live there. It’s basically one giant room in an adobe-style house. There are booths about holistic medicine and, while the major emphasis is on the fairie realm there is also some programming about American Indian religion and teachings. There really does seem to be something for everyone there.
And, unlike a lot of other festivals I’ve been to, it’s really easy to be vegan at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival. Not that I am. No, I eat meat. Just not all the time. I’m just saying that, if you happen to be vegetarian or vegan or only eat organic food…you’ll have a place at Spoutwood.
The last time we went to Fairie Fest, we needed two tents for sleeping and had another smaller one for the clothes.
Part of the fun of going to this festival is the camping. We always stay at the same site every year – Indian Rock Campground. I’ve even got the phone number of the place programmed into my cell phone so our camping reservation is just a button away. Well, there aren’t really reservations for the place. There usually aren’t many folks who camp there at the same time. Most of the folks we come across at Indian Rock are up in the RV section and a good number of them appear to be long-time residents. One of the guys, who has a nice silver Airstream trailer, helped pull the Green Man (Maggie’s car) out of the mud one year. There’s a creek at one end of the campground, right beside a tent site. That’s usually the spot we choose – it’s quiet, kind of set off from everything else, and it’s absolutely beautiful. We usually end up splashing about in the creek for a few minutes (it’s REALLY COLD!). Mornings begin with cocoa and breakfast by the fire – one year we had fresh-baked scones! – and then we get into costumes and take the 20 minute drive over to Spoutwood Farms. Even when the weather is overcast and damp it’s a lovely trip.
There’s also the joy of a rousing game of Tobblesot. “Developed” on our first – or maybe it was our second – trip to
My fairy is the one on the left. Maggie's is the one getting conked in the head.
Fairie Fest, it basically consists of tossing empty water bottles across the inside of the tent. There are no rules, there is an ever-evolving set of goals in the middle of the game, and it’s more fun that I can honestly understand. A few years ago Maggie and I made a flag to hang up at our campsite. Kind of like those banners and tapestries you’ll see in Lord of the Rings, depicting scenes or symbols that are significant to the history and culture of the people of Rohan, only, you know…this one shows a fairy knocking out her friend with a giant bottle.
If you ever get out to the York, PA area around the beginning of May I highly recommend stopping in at the Fairie Festival. I’m planning on volunteering at the festival this year. Volunteering two hours of your time means you get your entry fee reimbursed but the main draw for me is the chance to give something back to a festival that I look forward to every year. It’s the same reason I used to volunteer with the VA Highland Festival and Scottish Games – before they moved the location from nearby Alexandria to way out in the mountains. It’s kind of like my way of saying “thanks” for all the fun.
Now I just need to figure out what I want to wear to the festival this year. Hmm…..