By Molly Weeks Crumbley
The sun was bright, the air carried the scents of popcorn and fries, and the park was full of fairies and magical creatures. Just a normal day at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons … or at least what passes for normal on the day of the annual Fairy and Gnome Home Festival.
The magical community art exhibit, Fairies in the Garden, is now in its 12th year. “This popular annual tradition grew from our mission to merge art, nature, and community while highlighting the whimsical atmosphere that Annmarie Garden is known for,” says Jaimie Jeffrey, deputy director and curator of programs. “Our community has really embraced fairy season over the years and the exhibit and festival continue to grow each year.”
This year’s festival had the most fairy and gnome houses ever contributed, topping the charts at 147. The pint-sized homes are a true blend of styles, made by artists and community members, adults and children, professionals and amateurs.
The festival is a little bit different each year, retaining the familiar feel of the event while also making room for exciting new elements. “Each year, we try to reimagine components of the Fairy and Gnome Home Festival, while making sure we keep the activities that are fan favorites,” Jeffrey says. “From unicorn rides, to the bubble fairy, to arts and crafts stations, to nature games and discoveries — it’s a day full of nature play and imaginative fun.”
This year, attendees were invited to create their own magic scepters and wands, which they could collect decorations for as they traveled through gemstone-inspired realms. All through the park, interactive stations invited families to enjoy live music, create their own fairy and gnome homes with natural materials, interact with creatures both real and mythical, and join in games and craft stations.
A favorite craft station this year proved to be the one run by the Charm City Lego Users Group. In addition to their own intricate Lego fairy houses and magical abodes, the Charm City LUG set up areas for participants to build their own magical brick creations. So many attendees contributed Lego homes, flowers, and fairy minifigures that there was scarcely room left on the display table. Nearby, crafters could take a break from their building to watch children going on unicorn rides, the ethereal sound of handpan music drifting above the crowds.
Missed the festival but want to see what the fuss is all about? Many of the fairy and gnome homes will stay hidden throughout the grounds of the park until Sept. 5, and a special kid-created Children’s Fairy Garden exhibit will be on display until July 3. Learn more: annmariegarden.org.