GRAFTON, Vt. – Britannica defines fairy as, “a mythical being of folklore and romance usually having magic powers and dwelling on earth in close relationship with humans. It can appear as a dwarf creature typically having green clothes and hair… and characteristically exercising magic powers to benevolent ends; as a diminutive sprite commonly in the shape of a delicate, beautiful, ageless winged woman dressed in diaphanous white clothing… or as a tiny, mischievous, and protective creature generally associated with a household hearth.”
No matter what your definition, fairies have definitely become part of our make-believe world. But where do they live? In Grafton, they have houses. On Sept. 28 and 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the Nature Museum will be holding its 11th annual Fairy House Festival where there will be quite a few fairy houses on display. All are built by volunteers both individually and by teams.
Former Springfield teacher at Union Street School and new museum director Vanessa Stern says that so far this year builders have signed up to create 28 houses. In the past there have been as many as 50 houses that form a fairy village laid out along a beautiful wooded half-mile trail behind the museum. She says the houses are made out of acorns, tree bark, seed pods, branches, corn husks, moss, and are definitely all of natural materials. They are in a variety of sizes, but Stern says they all are “fairy-sized and guaranteed to make you wish you were a fairy.”
Some houses will also be in a more accessible area for those not wanting to walk the trail or are “wary of the woods.” And some houses will be constructed during the festival with the builders working for all to see. There will also be refreshments available provided by the Grafton Market food folks. Mona Frey will provide face painting, and Natalie Boston of Huntley Hollow Photography will be there to provide photographs of children and families in a fairy setting. Stern says, “You may dress accordingly.”
The festival was conceived by past director Lillian Willis. Stern says it is a legacy she has left that has been building for years. Last year’s festival attracted 1,200 visitors. Stern says, “It gets children out to connect with nature – so compelling that it’s the museum’s largest fundraiser.”
This year is the Nature Museum’s 30th birthday. In addition to its natural history collection, it runs a variety of programs for children, adults, families, and schools throughout the year.
Some past years’ fairy houses are currently on display in the museum. All were unoccupied, and no fairies were available for interview. But perhaps some of them will be around for the festival?
The Nature Museum is a nonprofit organization, and the event is a fundraiser. So there is an admission fee for the Fairy House Festival.