Fairy-filled festival transports its visitors to a whimsical world

May Day event draws thousands to York County

Trips: road trips, regional events

April 29, 2004|By Bill Sulon | Bill Sulon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Rob Wood is lord of the fairies - and gnomes, elves, leprechauns, pixies and any other representative of the fantasy world.

This weekend, Wood will play host to thousands of mortals - many dressed as fairies from all walks of folkloric life - at the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm near Glen Rock, Pa.

The gathering, a blend of late-'60s idealism and wide-eyed childhood enchantment, is expected to attract more than 7,000 visitors, most from southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, some from as far as Florida and Texas.

Though there will be plenty of food and entertainment, this is no ordinary weekend getaway. It's a springtime celebration of the extraordinary, a flea market for the fantastical.

Don't count on a simple trip down memory lane to the days of youthful yore, when the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, Peter Pan, Cinderella and Jack, the beanstalk climber, held a lot of sway.

"It's like a big, happy event where people are able to see the best in themselves and their surroundings and have a great time," Wood said. And, if they wish, they get to dress like fairies.

Wood came up with the idea of an outdoor Fairie Festival after attending a small, indoor festival in Andover, Mass., in the early 1990s.

"They read poetry and made fairy crafts and fairy punch," the 59-year-old herb- and flower-grower said. "It was a glorified tea party."

Wood added maypole dancing, art and food vendors, tours of "fairy houses," storytelling, Celtic music, a bagpipe band, outdoor tea parties and other fairy fun. The activities are designed to put visitors "right on the edge of make-believe and reality," he said.

Lynne Jones, a self-proclaimed "wing nut," wants to transport believers to that edge.

Most days, Jones is a 50-year-old artist from Parkton. During the annual festival, she is Faerie Wingnut, a 426-year-old (in fairy years) entrepreneur who, as her name suggests, is enthusiastic about wings.

"It's wearable fine art," Jones said of the wings, which sell for $35 to $400 a pair.

Like Wood, Jones sees philosophical meaning in the festival.

"It's a fairytale reality. You don't leave reality altogether," she said. "You enter into a reality of creativity when you are there. It's not a religious gathering. It's how far your imagination can soar. When you get there and see hundreds or thousands of people dressed in fairy garb, you get sucked into a wonderful swirl of good vibes and happy thoughts."

According to Jones, you don't have to be a fairy to experience those vibes and thoughts.

"If nothing else, it's a wonderful excuse to get out of the house and get into a beautiful setting with wonderfully warm people - and just spend a blissful day enjoying the sights and sounds of a wonderfully unique world," she said.

The festival's whimsical fun and games aren't just for grown-ups. Dana Stout, a 31-year-old administrator at Wood's farm, will hold tea parties for children at the festival, just as she does other days of the year in her hometown of Carlisle, Pa.

Stout, who does business as Posie the Fairy, won't be difficult to spot at the festival. If her large rainbow sign doesn't attract crowds, Stout's costume - a pale blue and lavender ballet outfit with a sparkling blue-bead tiara - should.

"I started wearing it five years ago, and I couldn't walk 5 feet without people stopping to ask if I was a real fairy," Stout said.

Though Stout doesn't claim to be a genuine fairy, Wood said he has come across some festival visitors who swear they have seen fairies. "I've only heard from three or four people who have said they really saw fairies," said Wood, who emphasized that the purported sightings did not take place at his festival.

What Wood does promise at his festival is a good time, as long as visitors come with open minds.

"The minute they enter our grounds they sense magic, enchantment," he said.

"It's something our culture has really lost, that enchantment that we have here," he said. "People realize that their real lives aren't as real as the lives they're yearning for. This helps fulfill their needs."

Festival facts

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine.

Prices: Age 13 and older, $10; ages 3-12, $5; ages 2 and younger, free.

Other places to go

Heritage Rail Trail County Park: Tired of hanging with fairies? Take a hike along this scenic 21-mile trail, which runs north from the Mason-Dixon line near New Freedom, Pa., through Glen Rock, Hanover Junction and Seven Valleys to the York County Colonial Courthouse. Access to the trail in Glen Rock is off Water Street, near Route 216.

Seven Valleys Vineyard and Winery (885 Georges Court, Glen Rock, Pa., 717-235-6281): Winery open Saturdays noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment

York County Fire Museum (757 W. Market St., York, Pa., 717-843-0464): Pull an original Gamewell Fire Alarm System from the late 1800s and check out the 1919 Model T fire engine, 1955 American LaFrance and other vehicles. Open Saturdays noon to 4 p.m.

Places to eat

Glen Rock Mill Inn (50 Water St., Glen Rock, Pa., 717-235-5918): Fine dining in a restored 1837 mill, the oldest building in Glen Rock.

Glen Rock Country Kitchen (144 Manchester St., Glen Rock, 717-235-3797).

Peppercorns Cafe (14 Main St., Glen Rock, 717-235-7744).

Getting there

The Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm is about 45 minutes north of Baltimore. From Baltimore, take Interstate 83 into Pennsylvania to Exit 8 at Glen Rock. Turn right and take Route 216 through Glen Rock. Continue on Route 216 West four miles beyond Glen Rock and turn left at Pierceville Road. Parking ($4) is a quarter-mile on left.

For more regional trips, see Page 41.

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