News Briefs

Fairy Tale Festival welcomes hundreds for free day of fun

By Matt A. Sheen

KILLINGTON—On Saturday, Sept. 21 kids entered the world of myth and make-believe for the price of a can of beans, and they didn’t even have to be magic beans. Twelve public libraries from six counties joined together to present the second Vermont Fairy Tale Festival at Sherburne Memorial Library in Killington. That can of beans got one a passport to travel to each of the imaginary lands, get their passports stamped, stickered, or autographed and then do a thematically appropriate craft. Kids could make poppy fl owers at the Maclure Library’s Wizard of Oz booth, which had an animatronic Wicked Witch of the West and volunteers Samantha Fox as Dorothy and Kelly Connaughton as Glinda, the Good Witch. “It was so lovely to see so many young and old at the festival,” said Connaughton, whose son, Bryce, dressed as Prince Charming. “We had a beautiful sunny day and lots of different vendors. What a fantastic way to promote literacy and imagination!” Twelve princesses danced courtesy of Fairfax Community Library, Poultney Library brought the Baba Yaga to life— complete with chicken-legged house—and a rousing game of croquet with fl amingos was held by Dorset Village Libary cataloguer Angela Saccamango acting as the Red Queen. “I wanted to be Alice, but they wouldn’t let me,” Saccamango confessed. The fi rst Vermont Fairy Tale Festival in 2017 was a rousing success, with 22 participating libraries and 600 families attending. Visitors could enter a storywalk provided by Montpelier’s Kellogg-Hubbard Library, meet Peter Pan thanks to Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library, discover the world of Narnia via South Burlington Public Library, learn the tale of of the Princess and the Pea courtesy of West Rutland Free Library, and let down their hair courtesy of Brownell Library’s and Essex Free Library’s joint presentation of Rapunzel “That took two years to put together,” said the festival’s coordinator, Jane Ramos, director of Sherburne Memorial Library. The idea came to her in 2015, inspired by a 20-year career of library networking. “We workshop and conference and such with other librarians, but I had never seen libraries get together and turn what we do best out toward the communities we serve. Killington was in need of a new festival that was family oriented and a Fairy Tale Festival seemed to be the most fun to do.” “There was as much enthusiasm from adults as from kids, “ said Lynn Spencer, an elementary school art teacher in Berlin who circulated around the fair dressed as Mother Goose, using a hand-made goose puppet to give out decorative eggs that contained fairy tales. “I reacquainted myself with nursery rhymes in preparation. The fi rst year I dressed as a fairy and we had a fairy booth where kids could make flowers with beads. The festival is such a great way to connect literacy and creativity.” Promising to provide each library that came with a tent and funds to buy materials for crafts, Ramos found many enthusiastic participants among the state’s public libraries, and got to work raising the needed capital with a staggeringly diverse range of events. “We’ve hosted murder mysteries, adult tea parties, blue moon brunches, raffled off kayaks, and just about anything else we can think of to raise funds throughout the year. My hope was ultimately to provide a free family event in the area that encouraged creative play, and to showcase our Vermont public libraries,” said Ramos. And there was no admission. “We didn’t want any child unable to attend because of their family situation,” said Ramos. “We have tried to get actual sponsors over the years and while we are appreciative of the ones we get, none of our sponsors wants to contribute money. Most want to do something in kind,” noted Ramos. “This year we hosted our second annual Sip and Spell…an adult spelling bee complete with cheats, we hold an annual book sale, we do an annual 0.5K Dash for Donuts every summer— and yes, that’s a point before the 5K. It’s a foot race of 1640 feet usually from the Rec. Center to the library… It’s a riot.” “I hope [participants] see all the wonderful things the libraries bring and it encourages them to visit their own public library when they get home.” Due to the overwhelming turnout for the first festival and the work involved in preparing for it, the decision was made to alternate the Fairy Tale Festival with another event to give the participating libraries more time to plan, so the first festival was followed by the first Vermont Viking Invasion in 2018. A three-day event geared more for adults, the Viking Invasion had period-costumed men and women reenacting the time of the Vikings and trainers brought over from Germany teaching various workshops. Even after cutting the number of libraries participating down to a dozen the festival nevertheless expanded this year. “This year, we increased the number of vendors and added more costumed characters,” Ramos said. “We’ve also added a dragon egg hunt and a build a knight contest. The Vikings were back again to entertain the kids….they were very popular in 2017.”

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