Creature Comforts

Princess, Fairy and Gnome Festival to draw creative home builders to Concord

By EMILY REILY
Special to the Union Leader
June 06. 2018 12:48PM

Her dress matching the rainbow of colors in cut flowers, a visitor to the Princess, Fairy and Gnome Festival begins work on a house for magical creatures. (Courtesy/Edith Weiler)
If you go...
WHAT: Princess, Fairy and Gnome Festival

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, with designated time for tea parties

WHERE: Kimball Jenkins Estate and School of Art, 266 No. Main St., Concord

TICKETS: $12 in advance and $13 at the door

INFO: kimballjenkins.com

Perhaps no one really knows what fairies look like, but at the upcoming Princess, Fairy and Gnome Festival, children can learn how to keep them comfortable should they drop by for a visit.

At the fourth annual event Sunday at the Kimball Jenkins Estate and School of Art in Concord, children can enjoy a tea party, listen to a story, make bejeweled masks or hats and meet with a real-life fairy for expert guidance on making a fairy or gnome house.

“For the children, it’s more magical. They absolutely love it,” says Kimball Jenkins’ business manager Rachel Young, who creates and organizes the event with help from volunteers and students.

Fairy stories were first popularized by the Brothers Grimm, 19th-century folklore collectors who adapted tales like “The Frog Prince,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “Hansel and Gretel.”

Some tales originated from what was found and imagined in the forest.

“In Germany, they would talk about how those (dark spots on the foxglove) were the fairies’ fingerprints,” she says.

And fairy rings, naturally occurring circles of mushrooms, are a sign of good luck.

For building the fairy and gnome creations, the festival places an emphasis on using all-natural materials. For example, shells can become pathways, birch bark can be propped up as walls, and flower stems can be used as building supports or teepees. Young said children have used long-stemmed flowers as roofs and added little notes so the fairies know where to find them. Flat pieces of bark can make a path, while pinecones propped up on sticks can light the way toward tiny shelters.

Children choose where to build their project around the 4-acre property.

“They actually walk all around the property, find a little place that they like, and then that’s where they build their fairy houses,” she said.

In preparation, Young gathers seashells along the beach throughout the year.

“They can use their shells for a whole host of things. I provide bark and lots of natural materials. All of that — pine cones, acorns — is used to build the fairy houses,” she said. “They get extremely creative.”

Young recalls one teacher who reasoned about the traveling pixies’ use of seashells: “Well, you know, if your fairy needs a little drink of water ….’”

Flowers can also be woven into the kids’ designs. A local florist from Lotus Floral Design has stepped in to help.

“She donates ... hundreds of bouquets of flowers,” Young says. “The children … incorporate them into the fairy houses, which is beautiful. If they’re making a bed, they’ll use the petals and the flowers for that. They love using the rose petals, whether it’s for decorations or their little pathway, or just sprinkling.”

A costumed fairy will talk with the children, visit their newly built houses, and be a sounding board for their questions.

“(Children) will say, ‘Do you think a fairy will come to my fairy house today?’ and that’s one of the reasons why we leave them up for a few weeks after the fairy house event,” Young said of children who sometimes stop back at the school to check for evidence that fairies or other creatures have visited.

The festival also will feature a tent full of project ideas and decorating supplies for craft projects.

Children can use gem stickers and markers to personalize masquerade masks, crowns, gnome hats and other items.

The fun continues at the tea parties, which are themed around Disney princesses including Moana, Elsa or the Little Mermaid, and classic characters such as Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. The rooms will be festooned with special tablecloths and decorations as children dance and sing to Disney soundtracks.

The event is geared toward children ages 2 to 12, but older youths are welcome.


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