Tara and I went to Eugene, Oregon over the weekend to find the realm of faeries. We have attended since 2007 and it remains a premier summer event for us. We actually have a section of the garage where our “faery gear” is stored. Wings, masks, scarves, bags, leather cords, feathers, antennae, and all manner of possible accessories fill bins and hang from racks. Our latest wings acquisition must hang from the ceiling for protection, since the wings are stiff and don’t fold up.
The festival began in Veneta, Oregon at the lovely little Secret House Winery in 2005. Tapping into that love of magic and love of the creatures dwelling in the realm of faerie that apparently resides in many of us, it quickly became an enormous draw, pulling in people from around the world. Who knew that so many of us still cling to those ancient stories? In 2009 Faerieworlds moved to Mt. Pisgah to accommodate what grew to 5000 people each day of the three-day festival.
It’s a tribal gathering fiercely driven to provide a family-friendly, planet-cherishing environment in which all expressions are appreciated and even praised. Except for illegal substances, that is. Drug use is prohibited, smoking is severely restricted, alcohol is kept behind fences, and bad attitudes are scorned. Imagine: a gathering of thousands in which foul language and crankiness is disparaged! People stop to pick up trash, and interrupt their conversations to praise a stranger’s garb. If a child cries, a dozen heads turn to make sure he is not alone. All ages and all beings find delight in such a safe environment.
If faeries are not what inspires you, there is no rule about what form your personal expression must take. Elderly faeries and witches and sorcerers walk beside young fauns and pirates and superheroes. Pixies in wheelchairs roll among clusters of land-based jellyfish. There are valiant steampunk adventurers and bawdy wenches. There are mermaids with their own pool and horned mermen whose tail transforms to legs when it’s time to explore. We’ve seen unicorns, dragons, Na’vi, storm troopers and Darth Vader. This year there was a panda in a kimono, and Totoro.
Every year I find a particular delight in the variety of materials that make up wings. There are fabric wings and metallic wings of shimmering tinsel or welded steel. There are steampunk wings of wooden slats and canvas and rotating gears. There were wings of embroidery hoops, of leafy branches, of black lace, and even of feathers. Mine were made of lacquered paper over wire, and Tara’s were gauzy black fabric, waving in the wind like cobwebs. Sometimes the wings light up, so the scene at night is brand new.
There are multiple music stages, and a puppet stage in the children’s area, nestled in the trees. There is also a simple stage of a cleared area that is commandeered by young actors who write and perform their own plays for fun. (Two young men advertising an upcoming show walked around selling rotten tomatoes to anyone who wanted to hurl tomatoes at a man in the stocks.) The musicians suit the theme of the event, always adorned to fit the setting, and sending their otherworldly sounds across the fields and into the vendors tents. Artists come from Australia, Norway, England, the U.S., and even mix it up among themselves like the band Delhi 2 Dublin.
Sadly, this was the last year at Mt. Pisgah. Due to the very unfaerylike behavior of attendees to a different Eugene festival, local residents complained about trash and noise and disrespect for neighboring properties, and a lawsuit shut all festivals down for good. Next year the fae folk will gather in a new location. Rumor was that it will be in Hillsboro, Oregon in 2015. Anyone who knows faery lore will understand that the realm follows no scientific laws that predict when or where it will appear again. Like the floating market in Neverwhere, we will wait for word, and then we’ll go to whereever the portal between practical life and fantasy is thin enough to walk through.
Oh, gosh, I just can’t stop! I took photos and photos and photos. If you’d like to scroll through more, I’ll just add my flickr link. There, you can see Malificent, Totoro, a battle between a black-winged skull demon and a 3-year-old avenger, pirates, angels, revelers, hoola-hoopers, dancers, a member of OMNIA playing a digeridoo, and more.