Rocky Ridge follows in footsteps of Spoutwood's fairy tradition

Nina Amaya, of Big Whimsy, performs during the first Enchanted Fairy Festival at Rocky Ridge County Park in Springettsbury Township, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

When a popular annual festival tradition moved last year, a local entertainer decided to continue the magic that brought so many people together.

The May Day Fairie Festival celebrated its 27th and final year in York County in 2018, when the festival grew to be too much for Spoutwood Farm in North Codorus Township and relocated to Maryland.

Nicole Pauling and Katie Smock, of York-based Atomic Bounce — which provides bounce houses and other children's entertainment — decided to offer their own Enchanted Fairy Festival in Rocky Ridge County Park on Saturday, Sept. 7.

They joined forces with Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania to bring entertainment, crafts and badge opportunities.

"My family goes every year, and her family goes frequently ... we were like, 'Oh my gosh, what are we going to do? We have to go to Fairie Fest,'" Pauling said.

Being connected to a lot of entertainers, including husband and wife stilt team Nina Amaya and Geoff Fahringer of Big Whimsy entertainment agency, they were able to draw a lot of big talent for the inaugural year.

For example, whimsical New York steam punk band Frenchy and the Punk was a regular at Spoutwood, Smock said.

Others included local poet and activist Carla Christopher; Harrisburg-based Artz N' Motion, offering silk and trapeze aerial performances; and Everybody Drums, bringing up to 200 drums for a participatory performance.

Some donned prosthetic ears; bright turquoise, pink and purple hair; or colorful costumes and fairy wings as they visited about 65 festival vendors Saturday.

Gus Gnome — the "gnome of unusual size" — a girl twirling mushroom-shaped batons, a man wearing a hat with bunny ears and fairy wings, and a group doing the macarena were among the colorful characters.

More:Spoutwood Farm to end 27-year run of the May Day Fairie Festival

"These girls are crazy about unicorns and fairies," said Beth Long, who said she and her twin daughters, Kinsey and Adria, 10, got their winged fairy costumes especially for the festival.

More:Alligators, concerts and fried food: Here's your guide to the 2019 York Fair

The Columbia, Lancaster County, family was looking forward to seeing mermaids in tanks and a unicorn at the enchanted petting zoo as they waited to board the shuttle.

Conor and the Wild Hunt, a three-piece band based in Baltimore, brought folk, pop and Americana to the fairy stage, singing, "Come on baby, keep on down the road," as a dancing tree on stilts clad in real leaves, a camouflage body suit and a crown of berries interpreted the music.

Children played in soap suds on a tarp, and the "bad advice fairy" taught them how to pan for semi-precious stones like the old miners. 

Food trucks and stands including Bubble Wow Waffles — born out of Central Market's strudel stand — Shorty's Funnel Cakes, Waffle Works and Dragon Ice Cream were also on hand.

Known as "U.B. Dragon," the New Jersey-based ice cream provider has traveled to festivals across the country for 40 years.

"They're all having a blast," said Nicole Barley, noting that her family used to go to the Spoutwood fairy festival. Living in Red Lion, she said, the Rocky Ridge festival is bigger and much closer.

An All Chocolate treat from Bubble Wow Waffles during the first Enchanted Fairy Festival at Rocky Ridge County Park in Springettsbury Township, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Adrienne McIsaac, wearing a raven costume she got at a Renaissance festival, traveled from Baltimore to check out the new event — noting it's a great place to be yourself.

"You can wear a skull mask and nobody thinks you're weird," she joked.

By mid-afternoon, about 700 parking spots — including vendors — had been filled.

"I think reality is sometimes hard," Smock said, and in the fairy community everyone is kind, and it's a chance to escape.

Spoutwood Farm's 29th annual Fairie Festival is scheduled for June 20-21, 2020, at Marshy Point Nature Center, 7130 Marshy Point Road, Baltimore.

Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect that the Spoutwood Fairie Festival is continuing at a new location.