Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Faerieworlds: 5 Days, 0 Drama

One thing that's struck me about Faerieworlds is how nice it can be to be in the presence of a large number of people gathered together to share the experience of an event like Faerieworlds. From late Thursday morning until Monday afternoon, my main focus was Faerieworlds and having a good time there.

I traveled to and from Faerieworlds with Jason, a friend from Tribe.net's Circle of Merry Folk. He lives in LA but wants to move to Portland, so he flew up a week early. We got together a couple of times, one of which was for the purpose of checking out a few apartment possibilities. I picked him up in the city at noon on Thursday and we headed down to Eugene where I'd booked a room at the Motel 6 just a few miles from Faerieworlds. We went to the screening of Mythic Journeys on Thursday evening at the Red Lion Inn where Brian and Wendy Froud were there along with Steven and Whitney Boe, the directors, writers and producers of the film.

Jason and I pretty much agree on the idea of making plans and trying to stick to them. We agreed to be at the Faerieworlds gate at 7 a.m. Friday morning. We left the motel right at 6:45 for the 10-minute drive. Along the way I thanked him for getting up so early so we could get there and I noted that it was the last thing we had to schedule together. His flight back to LA on Monday wasn't until late in the day, so we had plenty of time as all we had to really be aware of was being out of the festival site by noon.

From both adults and kids during the whole time I saw very little unhappy behavior aside from the occasional flash. I'm not a kid person, but I thought the kids were much better behaved at Faerieworlds than I'm used to seeing in the more mundane world. Everyone wanted to have a great time and I'd say the folks I saw succeeded. I sure did.

I'm starting to upload photos to my Flickr Faerieworlds 2010 set. As I write this, there's a few pictures of my steampunk hat I wore on Saturday, Bad Faeries Day, a few from the Frouds' book signing at Powell's on Wednesday, the film screening on Thursday, and a couple of photos another photographer took using my camera early on Friday. Unfortunately I didn't get similar pictures on Saturday but I've been looking for other photos showing me on Saturday both on Flickr and elsewhere. I'm sure the faeries will eventually lead me to some since during the festival I was stopped often by other folks who asked to take my picture and I know of others who just snapped as I went by or was posing for others. While it was nice of those who asked for pictures, I didn't mind a bit if others just got candid shots of me. One reason I didn't get a picture or two on my own camera of me on Saturday was that I was reluctant to ask anyone because getting the hat off then getting the camera off without dropping the hat was a bit involving. Since nobody offered, I didn't want to put anyone out.

One thing I did discover during camping at Faerieworlds: my days of using a tent I can't stand up in along with an air mattress on the ground are over. Next year I'll either try to scrape up money for a motel (the Motel 6 only 10 minutes away is a good possibility) or some sort of screen house or canopy with sidewalls, either being big enough to accommodate a cot for the air mattress. All the bending and stooping was uncomfortable, but it was a temporary inconvenience and didn't diminish my overall enjoyment.

I was extremely glad I remembered to pack earplugs. I expected things in the inner circle camping area to be a little noisier than I'd experienced last year in the outer grove area and it was, but inner circle meant far less walking. Jason and I were probably 100 feet from one of the gates between camping and the Realm itself and that gate was very close to the main stage. The earplugs bore the very appropriate brand name of Hearos.

So there's a few impressions of my best weekend of the year. I really haven't said a whole lot about the music, food and vendors, but as I get the photos up, I'll probably have more to say about that.

As I get back into the more mundane everyday existence, I'm finding I'm not so eager to get back to the political forums I visit on Delphi. I guess I'm just not ready yet to deal with what is often a lot of negative energy. Also, while I've usually watched Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on weeknights, I didn't tune in last night or tonight.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Faerieworlds 2010 Summer Celebration

I'm back from Faerieworlds and the weekend exceeded my expectations, if that's possible. I gave a ride to the festival to Jason, who attended his first Faerieworlds, and first festival of any kind last year. He's disabled with a bad leg so it's a little tough for him to get around, but he said he did more walking during the festival and the week before checking out Portland - he hopes to move here from LA - than he'd done in the previous six months. We went down on Thursday to see the film Mythic Journeys and met a few new folks there that we saw at the festival, including a couple from Hawaii.

On Friday, Good Faeries Day, we got there early to set up camp, then hung out until the festival opened at 2. With the new setup, we were very close to one of the two gates from the inner circle camping to the Realm, which cut down on walking a lot. The main stage was close to that gate as well. The costumes on other people were fantastic. My wizard hat got a lot of compliments and I kept getting stopped by people wanting a picture. Good thing I was in no hurry to go anywhere. The music was great and the set by Tricky Pixie was the best I've ever seen them do. Alec, a member of that band who I'm acquainted with, later told me things really came together to make for a powerful, high energy set. The audience was certainly enthusiastic, but then, they usually are at Faerieworlds.

Saturday was Bad Faeries Day. Instead of Friday's grey robe, I wore a black robe with silver leaf trim that I'd gotten last year. Instead of the wizard hat with all the good little faeries (six of them) and about 15 butterflies (faeries in disguise), I wore the top hat with the four clocks, Slinky Jr., miscellaneous gears, sundial and sextant. Again I was stopped frequently whenever I walked around. Folks were amazed to discover the clocks all worked and were set to four different time zones. It was a heavy hat, so when I wasn't walking around I usually held it or set it in Jason's chair if he was off somewhere. Each day we had good seats right next to the sound booth. I did my best to see at least some of all the main stage acts. There was another stage, newly christened the Neverworlds Stage, at the far end of the Realm by the food vendors, but I didn't make it down there very much, which is kind of too bad since one of my Circle of Merry Folk friends was stage manager.

Early in the day on Saturday I changed back to the wizard hat to go to a workshop called Connecting with Your Faerie Guides. It seemed only appropriate to have my little faerie friends along. Then I changed back to the clocked hat but kept the wizard hat with me because there was a costume contest soon after. I held the wizard hat up by grabbing the styrofoam cone that sits on my head and keeps the hat from flopping over. At the costume contest they had a kids' division and an adults' division. There were three categories for each with rather silly names. The one I remember is "Most Mythological." One reason I remember that is because I won in that category. I think having both hats helped, and my rather crooked and decorated staff added to the overall look. My prize was a poster of Brian Froud's "The Magician," which is one of the cards in one of his two oracle decks. It can be seen on this page - scroll down to the sixth print. The music was the best of the festival since Saturday is the biggest day. Faun from Germany and Woodland, the band featuring Emilio and Kelly Miller-Lopez, two of the Faerieworlds producers, did powerful sets. On both nights there were very nice lighting effects adding to the magic.

Sunday was Family Day. I wore the wizard hat and grey robe again. The faeries on the hat were glad to be back in the Realm. They weren't too happy initially about staying in the tent most of Saturday, but they overheard when someone on the stage said, "Bad faeries kick good faeries butts!" Since my little friends, both faeries pretending to be figurines and the butterflies are all good faeries, they didn't mind being in a safe place. Sunday is the short day, but there's still lots of great music, lots of activity, and of course the vendors, of which Faerieworlds has about 200. I was wearing a very nice T shirt with butterflies all over the front and back which I'd gotten from Alec of Tricky Pixie. His wife Kore (pronounced like Corey) had brought a few things along from an estate and wanted to get them sold instead of carting them back home. I asked her how much it cost, expecting to hear as much as $20, which I would have paid because it's so nice and goes with the wizard hat so well. Needless to say, I was flabbergasted when she said, "A buck." Also needless to say, I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough.

Performances ended at around 8:30 Sunday night with a wonderful group, Stellamara, doing the last set of the day. A lot of their music is based on Middle Eastern and Eastern European traditions, although they closed with the American tune "The Cuckoo," which is an old song that came across the Atlantic with early settlers who moved to the Appalachians. It was all over too soon, it seemed, after so much anticipation starting with the end of Faerieworlds 2009.

One interesting thing that happened was when I was approached by Robert Gould, the third member of the producer team early on Saturday. I'd been posting a lot of answers to questions people had been posting of the Faerieworlds pages on Facebook and Tribe.net. Many of them were related to camping, which I'd done last year, plus some general questions. I only answered, based on my prior experience, when I was sure of my information. I figured, quite correctly, the Faerieworlds staff had their hands full with last minute preparations, especially since Woodland had done a short tour in England a little over a month before Faerieworlds. Robert thanked me for the help I'd given folks and asked if I'd be interested in making it a more formal arrangement where I'd get more behind the scenes information so I could post more informatively and authoritatively. (Several times in my posts I'd included disclaimers that I was not on staff but just an interested participant sharing my experience.) Robert also shared some of the vision for future Faerieworlds events and other events, some of which might take place at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum. One idea was for a Harvest Festival in October. Emilio later mentioned that from the stage, but there were almost no specifics, so I'm not sure if it'll happen this year. But with the installation of a Stone Circle between the main gate and the main stage, it appears that the folks at Lane County Parks & Recreation, which run the area the festival is held in, are liking what they're seeing with Faerieworlds. Robert also mentioned seeing if vendors might go for the idea of having double-decker booths so people could use the upper level to watch performances on the main stage.

Later I mentioned that idea to the folks running Oberon's Three-Penny Tavern, an alehouse much like those at Renaissance Faires. I'd gone for a beer soon after things opened on Saturday, early enough that the Oberon's staff started a short meeting/pep session soon after I sat down at a shady table away from the bar. They said I was welcome to stay, and it was interesting to see a bit "behind the curtain." The guy in charge mentioned the roof over the tavern was strong enough to hold a person, something I'd seen early on Friday as I walked through before the gates opened. They liked Robert's idea, and I suggested maybe they could wangle a location for the tavern that would give a better view of the main stage, since Oberon's was off to the side and a few booths down from the stage.

Campers were allowed to stay over on Sunday night, which I was glad to do because I'm usually kind of wiped out by the end of the event. The inner circle was similar in some ways to last year's party camp. There was a fire pit in the middle of the area. There was no fire Friday night, but there were fires the next two nights. Several drummers gathered around and drummed pretty much nonstop until dawn. Also, I'd learned Thursday night that Jason is a world-class snorer. There's a brand of earplugs named "Hearos" and believe me, they are well-named. They blocked out the snoring from Jason, about ten feet away in the tent I'd used for many years at Old Songs back East. A bit more of the drumming leaked through, however, but I did my best to ignore it. But I still found myself awake with only a few hours of real sleep followed by just lying still for quite a bit.

This morning, Monday, August 2nd, I checked out the tent window at dawn to see if there was any ground fog, since today is Ground Fog Day. I didn't see any, so it looks like there will be six or seven weeks more of Summer. Conditions for ground fog were pretty close, though, with no clouds overnight, unlike Friday and Saturday nights, and very low temperatures. The dew was heavy, though, so I was in no hurry to take the tents down too quickly. We didn't rush and were still out by 10:30. Along with a stop for gas and one for food at Carl's Jr. in Eugene, we were finally on the non-stop leg of the trip up I-5 and then I-205 to the airport, where I dropped Jason off. Strangely enough, although I've lived here for ten years, it's the first time I've done that.

As of now, I still need to empty the car, which includes retrieving the USB cable to connect the camera to the computer. No, scratch that. I have a separate card reader attached to the computer. The last time I tried putting in an SD card it wouldn't read it, but this time it is. Cool. The car can wait until it gets a little cooler outside (while the cooler in the car gets warmer, but that's OK). Yikes! 529 items! I've got some serious sorting to do! I'll share some pictures here and more on Facebook and Tribe. Also, I'll be updating my Squidoo lens, Faerieworlds Summer Celebration.