The image above is the painting for "CAMERA OBSCURA" by Tom Wright
from the NIGHT GALLERY episode of the same name. All Rights Reserved.

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Last year, for the first time in a long while, I was able to venture outside of the Lost Coast and do some wandering again across this land, greeting old friends and fans and meeting new ones along the way. Over the next few months I'll be chronicling these hauntings in picture and verse. I hope you enjoy my excursion into the enchanted worlds of the fey…

 

Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.

~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

 

Towards the close of each summer, supernatural entities descend on the grounds of Mount Pisgah located near Eugene , OR . Some of these creatures are lovely and kind; some malevolent and eerie, but all are gathered for one purpose: magic!

 


A spectral balladeer in search of an audience of the Gentry…

 

FaerieWorlds, the three-day art and music celebration, began in 2002 as a notion of famed illustrator Brian Froud, whose FAERIE books were international bestsellers, and whose work in the Jim Henson films THE DARK CRYSTAL and LABRYNTH brought much critical acclaim. Mr. Froud's idea was simple, but ingenious; a Renaissance Faire type of village encampment, with arts, crafts, food, street performers, and musicians filling the main and supplementary stages. But instead of focusing on knights, lords, dames and damsels of old tymes, Mr. Froud naturally turned to the creatures that he loved best, and  a weekend celebrating the otherworldly was begun!

 

Artist Brian Froud; Founder Emeritus…


Ghostly wandering among the merchants in the Faerieworlds village

As a supernatural creature myself, I was delighted to accept an invitation to join the celebration as a street entertainer and wandering storyteller (which seemed, naturally enough, right up my alley). So last July I made my way up to the lovely and very warm location that welcomed all the Gentry and their brethren.

When I say warm, I do not exaggerate. The Northwest portion of the United States , all the way up to and including Seattle , was undergoing an extraordinary and somewhat devastating heat wave, with temperatures climbing into the triple digits! Fortunately, by the time of FaerieWorld, the temperatures had “cooled” down to the mid-90s (!!!).


A representation of the many fine and ornate metal sculptures that decorated the village.

The Faerieworlds piper welcomes the new day, to the delight of the patrons.

 

Happily, this did not prove too uncomfortable for most of the faerie folk, since, as you can see by the photos, they tend to wear very little in the way of clothing anyway! (It also didn't hurt that the village was located next to a large, clean river, and playing in the water was greatly encouraged. It became a natural thing for the population of the event to dip during the afternoon hours for a midday swim!)

While this suited the faeries and our customers well, needless to say a white-shrouded ectoplasmic spectre had a slightly harder time of it! I haven't felt an event so hot since the famed opening weekend of the HorrorFind convention many years ago, when the hotel air-conditioning was on the blink and my fellow Patient Creatures and I almost melted…literally.

 

I survived by taking refuge from the sun among many of the sympathetic booth merchants it was my pleasure to meet. They kindly allowed me to settle in with them for periods of time to refresh my energies. These included my dear companions the Thornberrys, in their Thornberry Arts pavilion. Tessa Thornberry is an exquisite young artist (you can see her portrait of Yours Truly in my Twilight Gallery from last month) who was selling custom hand-made masks. These included dragons, unicorns, and various insect and Steampunk-like creations. The masks were imaginative and extremely durable, a point she would demonstrate by stepping on them!


Katherine as a wicked Goth Faerie with a pale companion.
Margaret offers shaded hospitality to a wilting wanderer...

She was assisted in her efforts by her mother Margaret and sister Katherine. Tessa and Katherine were also avid costumers as well as artists, and Tessa could often be found sporting devil's horns and cloven hooves (much like an apprentice devil of my past acquaintance). Katherine also indulged in costuming, but saved her appearances for dusk, when she would make the rounds as a fine raven, a very appropriate creature for an enchanted village!

 

The mask-maker and (somewhat shy) mixed media artist Tessa, proprietor of Thornberry Arts, and a young patron wearing one of her creations. You can see more of her work by logging onto www.thornberryarts.com.

 

The event's activities were divided into three separate days: Friday was Good Faerie Day, with lots of sweetness and light making the rounds. Saturday was Bad Faerie Day, with darker forces making their presence known. Sunday was Family Day, when more children were expected. To be quite honest, I had difficulty telling the days apart; the “Bad” Faeries all seemed to have a sense of merriment about them; the “Good” Faeries had a streak of mischievousness that was telling; and there were children all about throughout the entire weekend, eyes wide with wonder at the sights to be seen!


The White Horned Queen and her Unicorn Attendant, on "Family Day"...

...and her Black Faerie Queen alter-ego on "Bad Faerie Day"!

 

And what sights! Glassblowing, acrobats, jugglers, huge puppets, wandering minstrels, hoop dancers, fire dancers, pirates (they're everywhere these days!), belly dancers, sword masters, and a white robed spectre wandering aimlessly among the throngs. It was a marvelous and spectacular time, and the photos included here can only hint at the wonders around us!

 

When it got too warm for the guests, and they didn't want to head towards the river, many took their places under the large communal tent in the middle of the village, playing games, enjoying a meal, reading , talking with friends, or just napping for a moment or two before venturing out again. I confess to enjoying a few moments of slumber myself, but only a few; no sooner would Morpheus and his spell over take me, lying on a heap of comfortable pillows, than I would feel tiny hands tugging at my garments, and I'd wake to several small, smiling faces with a simple request: “Can you tell us a story?”

And tell I did; exciting, simple tales for my young friends; slightly bawdy ones for my adult companions late in the evening, and the occasional tale highlighted by accompaniment from passing wandering musicians, who would join with me for an interlude. Everyone seemed to have a delightful time; I certainly did. And the memories, far too many to explore fully, but some highlights:

 

…a young one dashing around a corner tent, coming to a dead stop when seeing me, eyes staring; then a shriek of joy as she ran over to me and threw her arms around my legs. She ran off, then returned with a small flower, which she offered me. I had gained some strange looking faerie coins earlier in the day, and gave one to her, and off she went, skipping happily.

This is my young friend who greeted me so enthusiastically; apparently she delights in meeting all kind of otherworldly creatures at her tender young age!

 

…meeting Brian and Wendy Froud, who seemed happy to find me in attendance; their son Toby, the small baby from LABRYNTH now a fine young man and artist in his own right; and Jared himself, the Goblin King from the same film, wandering about. I couldn't resist stepping over to him and whispering, “I loved your movie!”

This dapper young gentleman is Toby Froud, son of artists Brian and Wendy Froud, and the baby brother from the film LABRYNTH. As you can see, he's grown into a fine performer himself with his muppet-like companion!


Mr. Froud and his muppet-like faerie sidekick meet another of their kind in the village square

 

This lovely young lady was an extraordinary street performer. Her character was a Tree Faerie, or Dryad. She would move very gracefully an very slowly across the village square, stopping and holding her position like an actual tree for five…ten…fifteen minutes at a time, saying not a word the entire time. (I learned later she had experience as an artist's model, and was used to staying completely still for long periods of time, although in that heat it was an incredibly focused action.) Everyone stared, enchanted and beguiled by her grace and otherworldliness. Were I to gather together another group of Patient Creatures, she would be very high on my list!

 

…the Celtic band Faun made their way to the Faire all the way from their home in Germany . The crowd was primed for them as headliners, and they didn't disappoint for a moment. With their sweeping melodies and rich vocal harmonies, Faun perfectly captured the feel of an ancient art form seen and filtered through modern eyes. If you'll study the pictures, you'll note that one element that makes Faun so successful is their use of actual medieval instruments, instead of modern guitar, mandolin and fiddle (although they were used expertly as well). Many of the instruments were so strange that I had no idea what they were, even with my somewhat expansive knowledge of music. You can learn more about them at www.faune.de/web.

 

Merlin leads one of his giant minions through the throng during a mid-afternoon puppet parade.


This lovely lady and her two equally beautiful daughters (although both bad faeries, evidently!) were selling their handmade jewelry at the event, and seemed pleased to make my acquaintance.

 

...this gentleman is musician extraordinaire John Doan, and the strange instrument he is playing is a harp-guitar! When I first heard that Mr. Doan would be attending the event, I was wildly curious, as I had never heard of such an instrument. But what an instrument! To put it simply, it combines the best of what both harp and guitar can do, but allows the two parts to be performed by one skillful player. And Mr. Doan is astonishingly skillful; indeed, masterful! The crowd was hushed listening to the lovely Irish melodies, for Mr. Doan is a loyal son of that green land. Many of the songs he performed were original compositions, and Mr. Doan provided to be as fine a writer as he was an interpreter. I cannot speak highly enough of this gentleman, nor endorse him more enthusiastically, should you get a chance to hear him in person! (Check out his own website at www.johndoan.com.

 


Two talespinners for the price of one! Yours Truly with the official storyteller and Master of Ceremonies of Faerieworld, Mark Lewis. Mr. Lewis has worked for Disney Imagineering, performed on the Tonight Show, and is two-time Emmy winner for his fine work! We truly enjoyed each other's company!

Mr. Lewis takes time from his busy hosting schedule to greet two of his admirers. You can learn more about this fine gentleman by logging onto his website www.laughingmooninc.com .

 

Now, I must tell you my favorite story from the festival, and one of the most memorable and touching moments of my wanderings ever…

At the event was a vendor selling a remarkable new toy: a fairy figure that actually flew acrobatics through the use of an invisible line. It's an old magicians trick, but it was quite affective; even at close range it was very hard to see the wire mechanism. It captivated the imaginations of many or the patrons, and the toymaker did a brisk business.
 
I happened to be passing the toymaker's tent that Sunday afternoon, the final day of the event. There was a family gathered there, with a young girl about nine or ten. The family was getting ready to leave, and the little girl wanted one of the flying fairies, which cost $20.00. The mother had agreed that she could by one on their way out of the Faire.

As luck would have it, in one of those agonizing coincidences that so often happen in life, the toymaker and staff had chosen that time to leave the festival and get some dinner. Their tent was abandoned, and tied up tight. Several other vendors entertainers tried desperately to find him, so as not to disappoint the little girl, but he was nowhere in the premises. The mother told her daughter that she was sorry, but they had to be going; they had a long drive ahead of them. The little girl's lip was quivering, ad her eyes were watering; she was clearly very disappointed and close to tears.
 
I went over to her and leaned down and spoke softly to her. "Can I tell you a story about faeries? It's a very good story; would that help you feel better?" She thought a moment, then nodded. I stepped back and began to tell my tale. it was, of all things, a Christmas story I'd heard a few months before, but it had adventure and suspense and magic, and slowly a large crowd gathered round to listen. I try to give my all at every performance, but I admit to trying to give a bit extra for this young one, and as the story progressed her tears dried, she began to smile, and soon she was caught up in the show.

 

I finished and took a bow, to quite loud and satisfying applause. Because I was trying to offset my expenses for the weekend, I was accepting tips for my storytelling, and I made what I hoped was a humorous announcement that to show appreciation for the performance, everyone was invited to "tip their favorite monster". Everyone began dropping money into my box, and I went to the girl and asked if she felt better. She nodded with enthusiasm, and her mother said it was time to go. The child put her arms around me and hugged me fiercely; then dropped something into my tip box and turned to leave.
 
I glanced down. The little girl had put a $20.00 bill into my box; her money for the fairy toy.
 
I called to her and tried to hand her back her money, telling her it was wonderful but much too generous. She wouldn't hear of it. She insisted I take the money. I tried to tell her the story was my present to her; she shook her head. "You cheered me up when I felt bad," she said. I tried to appeal to her mother, who shrugged and said, "It's her money, she can do what she wants with it."
 
I finally got down on my knees and told her that her gift was very special, and I was very happy for it, but that she should take it and buy herself something wonderful that she always wanted; it was simply too generous for my story. She went to her mother and came back with a $5.00 bill, which I gladly accepted. Then, with another hug, she was off home.
 
(The final chapter of the tale is that the mother left her name and address with some other vendors, who gave it to the toymaker when he returned from dinner. he felt so bad about missing the girl that he sent he one of the fairy toys as a gift.)
 
For a long time...I suppose even to today, I think about that little girl and her gift, easily the most I have ever been paid in scale for on of my tales. And perhaps I overly romanticize, but I think of the Bible verse of the widow who gave everything she had while others only gave a portion, and how blessed her gift was.
 
Why do we do it?
 
We touch lives.
 
This is not something to be taken lightly at all; there is a serious weight behind the humor and silliness and garish makeup and bad monster movies. We inspire, we uplift, and we are examples. Every celebrity that makes a dreadful mistake excuses it by saying, "Well, I didn't intend to be a role model..." But we are. The responsibility is far more immediate than you might imagine, or care to consider.
 
We touch lives, and sometimes, though our efforts, we change lives...!

 

And on that note, I close this chapter of my wanderings to that very magical land that I hope to see again very soon. Thank you so much to the organizers, merchants, entertainers, and patrons for making my visit to Faerieworlds so magnificent! (For more information on this year's event, log onto www.faerieworlds.com.

 

I want to offer a very special thank you to Tessa Thornberry, Katherine Thornberry, and Byron Dazey for their wonderful photographs!

 


© 2008 Patient Creatures Ltd.