Have you met the Fairy Queen? Each autumn, she appears at the Fairy House Festival in Grafton.
Regaled in large, glittering wings of purple and gold, the Fairy Queen greets all festival guests at the colorful fairy portal, preparing them to enter a world of creativity, nature, and fun. Young visitors especially love the moment when the Fairy Queen sprinkles fairy dust on their hand, welcoming them to step into a magical realm.
Laurie Danforth, president of the The Nature Museum’s board of directors, gleefully dons her wings to transform into the Fairy Queen for the last weekend of September every year. She looks forward to this year’s 10th Annual Fairy House Festival – the culmination of months of preparation of hard work by staff, board members, and volunteers.
“Being Fairy Queen is the most fun I get to have all year,” she said. “I get hugs from so many happy children, who love the Fairy Queen’s butterfly crown and sparkling wings. Each year, I see families arrive filled with excitement about spending an entire day together in nature – it is a magical feeling.
“I sprinkle everyone with fairy dust and send them on their way into the festival grounds to discover the colorful crafts, intricate fairy village, yummy local food, music, and bubbles... it's perfect, old-fashioned fun."
When visitors meet the Fairy Queen, they are welcomed into a world of imagination in tribute to nature. The Fairy House Festival is an opportunity for kids (and adults) to interact directly with the environment, expressing their creativity while fostering a deeper relationship with nature. Intricate fairy dwellings, made out of twigs, pebbles, shells, acorns and other natural materials, dot a forested path and welcome the sprites, elves and fairies of the forest.
These exhibits, built by volunteers, take many forms: fairy schools, fairy libraries, fairy pirate ships and fairy hot air balloons – each year the inventive creations spark awe and delight in visitors. Many of these fairy houses are built by children.
Jeanne Waldren, youth services librarian at the Whiting Library in Chester, has built dozens of fairy structures with her grandchildren and with the children at the Whiting Library over the years, sharing the creative process with the next generation. Waldren is one of dozens of volunteers who register ahead of time to become “fairy house builders” and to create these fairy house exhibits for The Nature Museum.
Her best memory of building with children is witnessing “the enthusiasm of the kids and their delight with the completed house. They often mention the many creature comforts that need to be included so that the fairies feel safe and content.”
There are also opportunities for all guests to get creative at the festival itself. The gardens become a fairy construction zone where visitors can use already-collected natural materials to put together their own fairy structure among the flowers and by the frog pond.
Under the shade of tall oaks, the arts and crafts tent is full of color and sparkle where kids can create fairy ear wings, masks, wands, crowns, dragon medallions and more. Whether building fairy houses, making arts and crafts or simply exploring the festival, children are able to use their imaginations at the Fairy House Festival.
Kate DesLauriers, a Girl Scout Troop leader and mother from Chester who has been a fairy house builder with her children and her Girl Scouts for The Nature Museum for seven years, remembers her first year at the festival: “My son was a year old and he created fairy ear wings at the arts and crafts tent. He wore those for weeks. The craft tent was the only thing that got him away from the bubbles!”
Celia Bohannon of Saxtons River builds fairy houses with her grandchildren every year for the festival, and her favorite memory is one of walking down the fairy house trail. “A little girl came skipping down the trail ahead of her family,” Bohannon writes. When the girl noticed that the next fairy house featured bark shelves of leaf-bound books, she “stopped, turned and said ‘Shh! It’s a libary!’”
The 10th Annual Fairy House Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at The Nature Museum, 186 Townshend Road, Grafton, Vt. Tickets can be purchased online at nature-museum.org/fairy-house-festival or at the fairy portal the day of the event.
The deadline to register on the museum’s website to be a fairy house builder is Sept. 15. The Nature Museum is also looking for volunteers to help at the festival and donors to support the event, which is the museum’s biggest fundraiser of the year.