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#TraditionsTuesday: The Ohio Fairy Gardening Festival

If you’re in the mood for a little summer magic, a visit to the city of Jefferson, OH in Ashtabula County may be in order, where visitors can step into a magical world at theWomen with child holding their fairy garden. annual Ohio Fairy Gardening Festival on Saturday, June 18. There, the fairies, unicorns, and mermaids live and celebrate the summer among us.    

Founded by Julie Cole, the Ohio Fairy Gardening Festival is a labor of love, dedicated to providing a pure and joyful experience to the 1500 or so visitors drawn to the annual event. Visitors are encouraged to wear fairy wings (extras are available!) and indulge themselves in the experience – taking in the critter show, marveling at the stilt walkers and live mermaids, and having their pictures made with the Fairy Godmother and Fairy Princess of the Festival. But the real draw are the tiny and intricate Fairy Gardens displayed by artisans and enthusiasts. 

The gardens themselves are often housed in small terrariums or other containers, but they feature miniature houses, fences, and more, built by the “fairies.” These pieces are usually made of natural materials, such as bark, stones, etc., and objects left behind by humans and found and repurposed by the fairies. These gardens are especially beloved by those where large-scale gardening is prohibitive due to issues with space, time, or mobility. Ms. Cole discovered the concept while visiting her brother, who had such a miniature garden in a bowl. Soon, she had her own Fairy Garden, and she found that there was an active community of Fairy Garden enthusiasts online. A trip to a fairy garden festival in another state convinced Ms. Cole that she could create a better and more cost-effective experience in Ohio, and thus the Ohio Fairy Garden Festival was born.

Each year, the festival features a costume contest for children and pets, and a Fairy Garden contest for children and adults. Families can come for a day of escapist fun and learn a little about gardening and their natural surroundings. Even the local chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse gets in on the fun, donning their own wings over their leathers to take pictures and provide the kids with an experience that is pure and joyful. It's that innocent magic that keeps Ms. Cole producing the festival – which is totally free to visitors - each year. “I do it for the kids,” she says. “To just give them [a moment] in the crazy world.  A chance to take them away for one day to a magical world, where they can just dress up, have fun, and play with the unicorns and mermaids.” 

Take up the #TraditionTuesday:

EXPAND:  The Fairy Garden Festival has been featured in the New York Times!  Read more about it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/style/where-fairies-are-real-just-squint.html

EXPERIENCE:  Visit http://www.ohiofairygardening.com/ for more details on the event, including directions and parking info!

EXPLORE:  The Fairy Gardening Festival isn’t the only attraction in Jefferson, Ohio!  The same day, June 18th, just down the street is the Annual Strawberry Festival at the Historic Depot!  Grab some delectable Strawberry Shortcake and go back to the Victorian era at this event!  Visit www.jeffersondepotvillage.org for more!

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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Article by Amy Ruggaber, Ohio Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Contractor
Photos appearing in the article are courtesy of the Ohio Fairy Gardening Festival.



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