On March 18 around 900 people attended Fontenelle Forest’s Fairy Faire, a program specifically aimed at families with young children.
Families turned out to build fairy houses, some so small and well-camouflaged as to be nearly invisible, others large and ornate buildings worthy of being called mansions.
Jamie Vann, the Teen Naturalist volunteer coordinator who managed the Faire, said that Lacey Pucinski, a staff member at Fontenelle Forest, had heard of Fairy Faires and thought it would be a good way to get kids interested in the STEM fields. Vann said that around 550 people had pre-registered for the Faire, but that more people actually showed up, giving an estimate that was supported by the staffers at the front desk of around 900 people.
Elizabeth Chalen, Fontenelle Forest’s Volunteer coordinator, gave some insights on what goes into planning for an event like this.
“The hardest part is preparing all the materials and making sure that there’s enough of everything,” Chalen said, adding that there are always people who just turn up, making it difficult to prepare.
“We actually ran out of coconut oil about halfway through,” Vann said, laughing. “We didn’t expect the popcorn machine to take so much.”
“My favorite thing is seeing the people, what they’ve done and how creative they are, just having a good time,” Vann said. “Sometimes it’s just stuff shoved everywhere, and sometimes it’s these big beautiful houses. Whatever kids want to do.”
“I enjoy seeing the families out in the forest building fairy houses together, spending time together,” Chalen said.
“Any way we can, we try to incorporate learning into activities,” Chalen said. “With the tokens, they’re learning math. You can’t just buy everything in the store.”
The attraction isn’t just for kids, however. Vann mentioned that a pair of adults registered as well, and parents get very involved.
The first Fontenelle Forest Fairy Faire was held in 2010.