South Elgin Faeries Festival attracts true believers, casual visitors
Whether you would answer Peter Pan's famous "Do You Believe in Fairies?" question in the affirmative, you could still spend an entertaining day without at The World of Faeries Festival, held over the weekend in South Elgin.
Visitors to Vasa Park for the 14th annual edition of the festival could buy ice cream from a dragon, mingle with visitors wearing wings, browse tents offering everything from magic healing wands to flower crowns, and listen to artists like Randy Granger playing a native flute.
Sporting a straw hat adorned with butterflies and affecting an English accent, Joshua Safford of Chicago wandered the grounds distributing a newspaper called the "Daily Crock." He said he was an ambassador from fairyland making his journal available to humans.
The presiding geniuses of this mixture are David and Gloria Yaeger, the organizers of the festival. David Yaeger said around 2,300 people attended the event last year.
"It's a fantasy festival," said Yaeger, a Crystal Lake resident who was dressed as a "green man" in a Celtic outfit consisting of a green and purple kilt, a pouch called a sporran and elf shoes. He pointed out that the venue is peaceful, family-friendly and alcohol-free.
"We have had people say we love the park because no matter where we are, wherever our kids go, we can see them. We know that they're going to be safe," he said.
Several children visited the fairy post office, where they wrote letters to their favorite fairies. Tending the post office Sunday was Elgin resident Wendy Dickman-Ray, who was wearing wings while accompanying 3-year-old son Braedon, dressed in a butterfly outfit.
Nikole Olheiser of Wauconda, who was at the festival with 8-year-old daughter Olivia and wearing flowers in her hair, said she had such a good experience last year, she brought her neighbors.
"I just think it's a cute little thing and it's reasonably priced for the kids. And then they get to dress up and have fun and see people walking around looking like things that they dream about," she said.
Olivia said she not only believes in fairies, but also unicorns.
Not everyone who attended dressed up.
"I'm maintaining a low profile," said Clare Ollayos of Elgin, who was clothed casually but added she ultimately plans to break out a fairy costume for a future gathering. "This is one of my favorite summer festivals to come to. I love the music, love the atmosphere."