Do you believe in fairies? No matter which way you lean on the issue, the World of Faeries Festival in South Elgin will welcome you this weekend, with or without wings. The wearing of wings, however, is encouraged.
The festival, which Gloria Yaeger and her husband, David, debuted 10 years ago, is modeled after the oldest event of its kind, the May Day Faerie Festival in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, and is similar to a Renaissance Fair, according to Yaeger.
What: World of Faeries Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Vasa Park, 35W217 Route 31, South Elgin
Cost: $11, $8 for those 65 and older, and free for kids 12 and younger. Tickets at the event are cash only. Tickets $10 at Theworldoffaeries.com.
"Except you can come in any type of fantasy wear," she said. "We feel, and a lot of people who've returned to the park feel, it's a place where we can just be ourselves."
The event takes place in Vasa Park in South Elgin, along the banks of the Fox River, a location the Yaegers, who live in Crystal Lake, discovered on a bike ride.
"We said this would be perfect spot for our own little fairy festival," Yaeger said.
Along with faerie teas and dance lessons, the festival welcomes 40 vendors who will carry such items as costumes, candles, soaps, jewelry and artwork, much of which will pertain to dragons, as the mythical beasts are the theme of this year's festival.
Also, set to entertain are musicians: Julie Patchouli and Master Guitarist Bruce Hecksel, Frenchy and the Punk, Randy Granger, Greg Herriges, 3 Pints Gone, and Ho Etsu Taiko, musicians with a fresh take on the art of Japanese drumming.
Other forms of entertainment are designed to please, from storytelling and magic with Joshua Safford, to presentations on how to make a faerie house, to representatives for the International Heritage Conservancy, who will demonstrate falconry and discuss the importance of protecting birds of prey in the wild.
Carol Posa of Fox Lake entertains as the Fairy Godmother and has been a staple of the festival since attending as a patron the first year.
Posa was so struck by the fair that she knew she wanted to participate the following year and gave some thought as to how she could add to the festivities.
"I did a scavenger hunt with a story where you had to follow the clues," she said. "I designed it to be a family fun thing.
"I kept in mind that I was trying to get people to spend a couple of hours," Posa added. "I wanted to give them something that will make them stay and spend a little time."
The activity, which Posa hopes families will participate in together, has evolved into "The Quest," which, as a nod to returning children's requests, has been divided into three levels of difficulty.
The first level is for the 3-, 4- and 5-old-set and the next two levels increase in difficulty, depending on the participants' abilities. The activity offers clues that lead scavenger hunters on a mystery quest that involves collecting "dragons tears" and earning medallions.
The festival, at its core, is a fantasyland for people who want to don a costume and escape the drudgery and attire of real life.
"My favorite thing to play was 'dress up' and I've never outgrown it," said Posa, who remembers fairy stories translated into ballet as a child dancer. "I thought it was so cool; they were winged and fanciful and fun," she said.
"They're magical and they're earth based, which is needed today," Yaeger said.
It's cash only at the gate; no pets are allowed and the fest is alcohol free. Once inside, Yaeger has only one rule: "When you walk into the park forget you're an adult and become a child again."