Faerieworlds Festival, Horning's Hideout, North Plains,
OR, USA July 31-August 1, 2004
And our time is filling like cups of honey wine
Sweeter the water, the deeper the well
--"Three," Gaia Consort
What the heck's a Faerieworlds Festival, I asked myself when Ryan and Maria Nutick asked me to go along with them to review this year's festival. Rebecca Scott here, and to a certain extent, I'm still wondering. What was that? Fun, warm, and tiring might be a place to start, and I'm left with a jumble of impressions that creep into my dreams at night; when I wake I have trouble separating out the dreams from memories, even though I know that, while I was actually at the festival, my experience was pretty mundane.
I'll start with the location. Horning's Hideout in North Plains, Oregon, was a nigh-perfect site for a faerie festival. Tucked away in the hills, we had to drive down gravel roads lined with beautiful trees and giant ferns to get there. The main stage backed onto a pond, complete with fountain, islets, and arching wooden bridges. Immediately in front of it was the dirt dance floor (where they set up sprinklers to cool the dancers), with grassy, shaded slopes beyond that forming a natural amphitheater. Above that, the merchant booths were strung out in three or four groupings, and behind those were more trees. Despite the dust raised by so many feet, it was an absolutely beautiful place, and I enjoyed just sitting and looking at it.
Music seemed to be one of the main purposes of the festival. There was music on the main stage the entire time I was there, and very pleasant it was, but almost all of it was purely instrumental, which tends to fall into the background for me. I did hear a beautiful and touching rendition of "Paddy's Lament," but failed to catch the name of the group which performed it. By and large, I'll have to leave the music reviews to others. I will say that the constant presence of music made everything more enjoyable.
Vendors and artists were the other major draw for the festival, and there were some wonderful ones. I came home with a pocket stuffed full of business cards and flyers, and I spent more money that I had intended on merchandise. A few personal favorites were: The Terra Cottage, with its marvelously funny clay sculpture; the Dragonmaker, with her lovely dragons and masks; Belfry Masks, which sold very elaborate masks and wings, and Samiah with her beautiful coats, skirts, and gowns. There were so many lovely things, I hardly knew where to look.
Of course, the festival's special guests brought in more than a few people; well, what faerie-fan wouldn't turn up for all three of the Frouds? Imaginosis and World of Froud had a nice, large booth just above the amphitheater, with plenty of Brian and Wendy's work on sale, and the pair of them did two-hour signings both days. Word has it that Toby Froud got up and performed, but I'm sorry to say that I missed it.
The fact that I missed Toby's performances may be related to my only major complaint about the Festival: it suffered from a lack of clear information about places and times for nearly anything. The Web site and the flyer that was handed out on site were both slick, handsomely laid out, and beautified with Froud drawings, but they tended to lack certain vital information. A listing was given for the bands Sunday, but not Saturday; the location of the World of Froud booth was not shown on the map; neither Toby's performances nor the Frouds' signings were listed; and the workshops I saw signs for weren't mentioned at all. I'm told that this is pretty standard for young festivals (this was only Faerieworlds' second year), but that doesn't make it any less annoying.
The high points of the festival for me were the unexpected things. The Mud Faerie was out, dressed in one of the best costumes I saw all weekend, making marvelous sculptures in the mud. I got to sit in on a jam session that included Chris and Sue from Gaia Consort, S.J. Tucker, and Corinne. Beautiful music, a light breeze, and a view of the lake cooled me off more than the air conditioning we'd been headed for when we found them. Finally, I got to hear Phil Brucato read from his new book.
For those who don't play role playing games, Phil Brucato used to write for White Wolf Games, where he wrote a lot of the best parts of that company's popular line of World of Darkness games (including Vampire: The Masquerade and Mage: The Ascension). Now he's got his own company, Laughing Pan Productions, and he's working for himself. Deliria is his new game; it's based on faerie tales in the modern world. To set the mood, the book is peppered with original stories. Brucato read "Grimblegroth," "Thorn," and a few other fragments. I was astounded at how well he read them, until he told the audience that he'd trained as an actor. "Grimblegroth," the story of how one hiker learned to not litter, sent chills racing across my skin; "Thorn" reminded me of how it felt to be a depressed teenager who went to extremes in attempts to feel alive, and with Mr. Brucato's voice to lend it extra power, it touched and thrilled me. Since I still had a long drive ahead of me, I left after his reading, but it really was the perfect note to end the weekend on.
The Faerieworlds Festival could've been better organized, it's true, but there's something about that many people gathered together, all of their minds and hearts focused on a vision of the world as magical. . . . It's no wonder I had dreams.