Artist: Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Michigan Renaissance Festival 2016: Meeting Fairies

( The MRF Faeries, L-R: Sandshell, Zephyr, Sweetheart, Wyvern, Icelia, Cobweb, Sunburst, and Foxtail)
 Copyright, Kenneth R. Shepherd

Each year for seven weeks, during the ‘tween time betwixt summer and autumn, the enchanted English Renaissance village of Hollygrove appears in a fairy wood in Holly, Michigan. It is a place out of space and time, where modern humans can meet fairy folk, Renaissance villagers, royalty, and all manner of colorful characters. This annual event is called the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

How this mysterious thing came about is anyone’s guess, but I’ve always compared Hollygrove to Brigadoon. A magic spell must have been cast when the world was split into the realm of Faerie, and the mundane world of the humans. There may have been some human folk who couldn’t bear to be parted from their fairy friends, so the fairies cast a spell to allow the humans and fairies to stay together, yet still allow some contact with the outside world. Now, even the human residents of Hollygrove are charmed. Hollygrove appears each year, but only on Saturdays and Sundays from August 20 through Oct. 2 from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M., plus Labor Day Monday (Sept. 5), and Festival Friday (Sept. 30). During this special time, humans may visit Hollygrove to meet the fairies and the charmed villagers.

There are all manner of fairy folk to see and meet in Hollygrove. The Michigan Renaissance Festival Faeries can be found in the Children’s Realm. This fairy troupe provides pleasant diversions for children throughout the day. There’s a Fairy Tea in the afternoons around 3:30, arts and crafts in the Arts & Crafts Pavilion, a children’s parade, and a pie eating contest. The fairy troupe includes Cobweb the Dream Faerie (the head fairy), Zephyr the Wind Fae, Sunburst the Art Faerie, Foxtail the Animal Faerie, Dewdrop the Bubble Faerie, and Icelia the Frost Faerie. There are three new fairies this year: Sandshell the Shore Faerie, Sweetheart the Charm Faerie, and Wyvern the Dragon Fae.

It was lovely catching up with fairy friends and meeting the delightful new fairies. When asked if he likes interacting with humans Zephyr said, “Aye, fascinating creatures they are.” Wyvern said, “I eat humans. I am a dragon, after all.” Cobweb went on a quest to rescue some fairies during a great storm. Upon her return, she said her journey was “Treacherous, it reminded me of the time I went up a water spout. As a result, I now suffer from IBSS – Itsy Bitsy Spider Syndrome!”

Cobweb was so kind to introduce us to some fairy folk who are new to the Michigan Renaissance Festival as of last year: the elves. The elves wander about the village, interacting with guests, and mingling with villagers and fellow fairy folk. Members of the elf troupe include Canis, Shay, Dijuri, Ambrielle, and Jynx. Like the fairies, the elves are mysterious, magical, kind, and whimsical.
The Michigan Renaissance Festival Elves (L-R: Dijuri, Jynx, Shay, Ambrielle, and Canis)
 Copyright Kenneth R. Shepherd

Fairy folk, Renaissance royalty, pirates, and villagers graciously greet visitors and invite children to play. Everyone in this enchanted village is hospitable and welcoming.  Guests are encouraged to dress in Renaissance attire or in fairy costumes if they like. Renaissance costumes may be purchased or rented from shops in the village. There is even a rental shop just outside the festival entrance. The village offers lots of shopping opportunities for unique wares by talented artisans and artists. There are many diversions and spectacles to enjoy about the village, plus performances on seventeen different stages throughout the day.
(L-R: Hollygrove villager and friend Page Turner, Foxtail the animal faerie, and Sunburst the art Faerie)
Copyright Kenneth R. Shepherd 

The Michigan Renaissance Festival is at 12600 Dixie Highway in Holly Michigan, off I-75.  One day admission at the gate is $22.95 for adults, $13.95 for children ages 5-12, $20.95 for seniors and for students with a valid college ID. Tickets purchased online in advance from the festival website are discounted, but you must present a printed ticket to enter (so print those tickets at home before you leave).

Discount tickets are also available at southeast Michigan Kroger stores. Check the festival website for more discount ticket opportunities. Season passes are also available, as well as Royal passes. All other information is available at the Michigan Renaissance Festival website. Follow the festival on Facebook and Instagram.

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