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Posted: April 8, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Building spritely places

Park fund raiser takes an Enchanted Tour of Homes

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Wood crafting: Barbara Morgan, vice chair of the Friends of Newton Parks, helps assemble a "fairy house" for the fundraiser on May 2.

According to William Shakespeare, fairies come out to play at night and prefer not to be seen by human eyes. But the Friends of Newton Parks are hoping that fairies in Covington have evolved since Shakespeare’s time and will make an appearance on May 2 to check out the new homes being built for them around the county.

The Friends met in Oxford on Monday, braving cool weather and blustery winds, to construct the first of what they hope will become many fairy homes that will be placed throughout Chimney Park, just in time for the Tour of Enchanting Homes next month.

Built entirely from items found in nature, the first round of fairy houses will be housed at elementary schools throughout the county in an effort to inspire the children to make their own fairy houses.

According to Kathie Smith, event chair for the tour, the Friends first spoke with media specialists at the elementary level and provided the school with books, including Tracey Kane’s "Fairy Houses" in hopes that children would be exposed to the idea of building their own magical homes. But when the middle school’s learned of the event, they too expressed interest and books were supplied for their libraries as well.

A popular pastime in New England, the idea of building homes for fairies originated in Ireland. Currently, there are several festivals held in those areas to celebrate May Day and building fairy houses is a popular event. Southern states have yet to catch on – something the Friends hope to change with the inaugural event at Chimney Park.

"Fairy festivals are a much-beloved tradition in New England and in Maine where these little houses ‘magically’ appear on the coast or in the woodlands," said Smith. "We believe this will be the first such festival to be staged in Georgia, and Chimney Park – where imagination and creativity thrive – will be the perfect setting for such a gathering. It will be a day for the young and the young at heart to experience the magic of exploring the natural hideaways where fairies work their magic."

According to Friends member Barbara Morgan, Chimney Park has a lot to do with imagination.

"You can see where the smokehouse and children’s playhouse once stood in the ruins," she said. "The park lends itself to imagination and until we can add what we want we are trying to get people involved in the park as it is now, as nature gave it to us."

Fairy houses are a perfect way to make this happen. They are built out of materials that are commonly found in nature and generally sit at the base of a tree or nestled in the woods, it would be very easy to walk past one and never notice it sitting there.

A number of organizations throughout Newton County will be making their own fairy houses, including members of 4-H, various garden clubs and master gardeners and the extension office, just to name a few.

The houses constructed by these organizations will be placed throughout the park in preparation of the tour. The Potting Shed will have an exhibit of plants, flowers and shrubs that, according to lore, attract fairies.

The tour of these fairy homes is planned between 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, May 2 at Chimney Park. Those in attendance are encouraged to bring their own materials to learn how to build their own fairy houses for their yard or gardens.

There will also be a May Pole dance conducted by East Newton Elementary School music teacher Jeff Johnson, librarians to read fairy stories, a station to make fairy dust and fairy wands, and fairy-themed foods. Children are invited to come dressed "in their fairy best" and take part in a parade.

"I think that everything has become so technical these days," said Friends member Mary East. "Anything that involves using your imagination is very welcome."

The festival itself is free but donations are welcome and will benefit Chimney Park.

 

 

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