Page 1

THOUGHT

Optimism of the May Day Faerie Fest By Julie Fisher

Philip Laubner

You cannot mention glitter and not summon faeries. Elusive beings that shadow us through history and culture, inviting us to dream, play and perhaps be a little mischievous. Glitter evokes pixie dust, magic dust, genies and princess fairies with wings bedecked and bejeweled and there is a place, a secluded place where this all comes to pass ‌ Nestled in a rural pocket of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania lies 26 acre Spoutwood Farm where thousands converge over 3 days for the May Day Faerie Fest. This event became a mecca of mine, roughly 10 years ago. My curiosity tickled by fanciful, intricate, ink drawn fliers winking at me from coffee shop windows, I gathered my best pals and we made the jaunt.


Enchantment. The people watching is mesmerizing. It is clear who is there for the first time. They are a bit wide eyed, as if just awakened. Some have been traipsing awhile and have purchased accessories. They are a bit giddy. Soon you will see the Veterans. They are heavily adorned, and made up and committed to the persona they select. You cannot help grinning. They make you happy. You’ll find local farmers, a scattering of bikers, middle class families uber equipped with wagons and coolers and wet wipes and water bottles, hair well coifed directing pods of clean costumed children. Renaissance Festival regulars who add fairy wings to cherished leather and chain maille outfits. “Hippies” and Chip Irvine “pagans” clad mostly in mud. Babies in carriers and kids in strollers. Older people at home in their skin and rocking their costumes, teenagers and college students, singers and dancers and poets and hoopers-a gentle circus of exhibitionists. Even dogs in attire. A nature honoring ambience mingles with mythology and imagination.

Chip Irvine

Philip Laubner


The creative atmosphere recharges. Vendors and artists are chosen with care, selecting those that embrace magic and whimsy. Handmade and/or traditional wares are represented. All shopping, including food, is delightfully free of corporate blare. The festival layout meshes pockets of greenery, weathered farm buildings and a stretch of meadow with a real gem—the Spoutwood Observatory (see page 64). Playfulness is expected, making a perfect atmosphere for children to romp with their families. The farm is enhanced by thoughtful creations like the Oracle Maze and the Faerie House Trail. The Oracle requires traipsing through trees and shrubbery to find hidden pots of color. You must find five colors to get a complete Oracle reading. Once each finger is dipped, a giant sandwich board at maze end translates your color combination into a fortune. Even grownups get tangled in the playful spirit. The Faerie House Trail, this year’s discovery, is sequestered enough from one of the music stages you might not notice it right away. We sleuthed little dwellings hidden in foliage, and cozied in trunks. Visitors are invited to design with a hodge podge of recyclables like colored yarn, foils and a smattering of doll house furniture. Once we found a suitable nook, we busied ourselves. While the pageantry is such a treat and the farm is lovely, it’s not necessarily what draws me back each year. There is a quality that is singular in my experience, the sense of sanctuary offered. A recognition we need to

Chip Irvine

Chip Irvine


step away from the “rat race� from time to time to honor roots, history and natural cycles in order to greet the future. We NEED something to believe in when times are really hard, when odds seem insurmountable. The May Day Faerie Fest reminds us we have magic, stories, fairies to pull us through-give us that extra ounce of energy at the last possible moment. May Day is a recognition of Beltane-the end of winter’s obstacles. The welcoming of Spring and new beginnings. A crucial ritual in human communities, I imagine this celebration is as old as people. The people of Spoutwood Farm recognize the need to unfurl and share the optimism of spring unfolding. We shed some angst and don some whimsy to eat, dance and play with one another. For a few hours unencumbered to celebrate Creation. This celebration is not new and the farm and festival organizers embrace science and technology that furthers their mission to reconnect people with nature. One example, using solar panels to provide some of the bands like, Telesma, electrical needs. Another is using social media to enlist the many volunteers that maintain daily functions of the farm and during Faerie Fest. The website, www.spoutwood.com is a great communication tool for newcomers and veterans alike. It often feels like modern society invests a lot to trivialize natural rhythms and cycles. Our techno age trumpets our dominance of the food chain, excusing our impulsive plunder of Earth and its creatures. So little, consequence is given to our addiction to instant gratification. Faerie Festivals are one visible manifestation of an effort to implement more conscious living. A growing but not quite mainstream concept some-

Philip Laubner

Chip Irvine


Philip Laubner

times called Transformational Culture. It meshes technology, art, improvisation and acknowledges having fun is a tool. These gatherings use performance and dance to cultivate a unity of purpose, not political affiliation. Spontaneity, Earth honoring, fusing ancient knowledge with new gleanings characterize this pseudo-communal approach to feeling less scattered in our lives. All kinds of people undertake celebrations which prioritize values often overlooked in capitalist driven cultures. This optimism is what I want to soak up. It’s what calls me every year, beckons my bones. The Faerie Fest is not Utopia. For example, it is predominantly White. I don’t know why. It is not Utopia, but it is a treasure. A little bubble saying “NO” to mainstream entertainment that nudges us towards buying stuff so

we’ll feel better. These “let’s just have some fun” and “express ourselves” gatherings seem to generate something truly valuable. It feels like the awareness of possible dire futures is fuel, a call to action rather than an ingredient for apathy. A mix of “do it yourself ” but “you can’t do it alone” makes this swell difficult to label or pigeonhole but you’ll know it when you feel it.

Philip Laubner

Chip Irvine

Optimism of the Faerie Fest  

Julie Fisher reflects on the Faerie Festival at Spoutwood Farm and why it might be so charming.