Saturday evening a local property was turned into a magical place filled with pixies, elves, fairies and dragons thanks to 30 volunteers who transformed the woods into an “Enchanted Forest” for the second annual Liberty Center Association for the Arts fundraising event.
LCAA Executive Director Terri Ballard said last year was successful with 300 people attending the three-hour event. This year Ballard was planning for 500. The woodsy property, owned by Steve and Valarie Bloess near West 24th Street and South Grand Avenue, provided the right ambience for the event that also included wood campfires for roasting marshmallows.
Volunteers and participants were encouraged to dress as fairies, pixies, enchanted woodland animals, or other fantasy characters.
“Courtney (Wilken) and I have raised boys, so we thought we need something for boys,” Ballard, who was dressed a the keeper of the dragons, said. “So, we have dragon’s nest with eggs in it. I’m not a Maleficent-type character, but more of a friendly dragon keeper.”
Wilken dressed as a butterfly queen complete with a butterfly fascinator hat.
Ballard explained the event wasn’t just for children but for everybody.
“I’ve had two elderly ladies call me and they wanted to come,” Ballard said. “So, they are coming. A lady from Marshall actually loaned us one of her fairies and she’s a grandmother. I think it’s good for all ages.”
Before entering the forest at 6 p.m. children created a craft. They decorated a “magic” wand, made from spray-painted pine cones and paper towel tubes, to take into the woods with them.
“When they wave the wand the lights will come on,” Ballard explained.
Back again this year were the fantasy, still-life vignettes that many children found fascinating.
“Last year, what we noticed is we set up the little still-life vignettes, the kids really enjoyed playing with that and touching that,” Ballard said.
To keep the children from playing with the vignettes the group decided this year to add a hands-on area where they could actually interact. The play area included fairy and dragon toys, rocks, small play houses and building toys.
The event was supported by the community with individuals plus several businesses helping to create “enchanted” stations. Each station had something for the participants to do or see related to the fantasy world.
“We invited different people to do still-life vignettes,” Ballard said. “We use some of our people from the theatre side to do interactive stations and we try to change those up so it’s not the same every year. It’s kind of fun because everybody has a different creative take.”
LCAA Board member Chelsea Kehde created a two-story fairy house from a “stump” complete with wallpaper and furnishings. The original house was created by the late Jack Bloess as a miniature dollhouse. Kehde took the original and added real tree bark, silk flowers and greenery.
“It lights up,” Kehde said. “In the back it opens up and it has more flower fairies. I wallpapered and, if you look really closely, on this level is tree limbs and squirrels. I tried to use everything that I had rather than going out and buying a lot.”
Kehde, who came dressed as a flower fairy wearing a hat filled with silk roses, added that she made mushrooms for the display using a variety of inverted glass bowls sitting on top of vases.
Kehde also amassed an assortment of green vases so Kate Koenig could created a lighted miniature “Emerald City” like the one in “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I collected them all summer at garage sales,” she said. “It was hard to find that color green.”
Melinda Moore, of Moore’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop, created vignettes depicting a hanging fairy queen bedchamber and a pavilion. Moore used 1920s glass, light fixtures for the fairy chambers and then suspended them from tree branches.
She also created colorful paper mâché mushrooms that sat on the forest floor complete with windows and doors. After dark, lights glowed from the small windows causing children to squat down and peer inside.
Ballard and Kehde noted they saw a wire fairy sculpture at the Missouri State Fair this year and decided to track down the artist, Linda Conner, of Marshall, for this year’s Enchanted Forest. Ballard added that Conner was excited to dress up and attend.
Due to the popularity of the Enchanted Forest, Ballard noted it will be an annual event full of surprises.
“Next year we’ve identified other places where the fairies will probably inhabit for our event,” Ballard added smiling. “So, look for it to not be in the same location all the time. We think that will be fun as kind of a surprise. We’ll unveil it the night of.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.