Preview by Joshua Maloni
Generally speaking, it's adults who can't wait to visit Artpark for a concert or special event. But not this Sunday. It's then that children from across Western New York will descend into the Village of Lewiston for the first "Fairy House Festival."
And if Stella Niagara second-graders are any indication, the event is bound to be a huge success. Kathy Nicolette's 17 students couldn't have been more excited this week, as they discussed their two fairy houses and the opportunity to meet author Tracy Kane, whose stories inspired Artpark's festival.
The students busted out with enthusiasm as they shared tales of working together in teams to build the all-natural houses, which they said could serve as suitable homes for frogs, small bugs, squirrels and even a fairy or two.
The second-grade class spent two hour-long sessions fashioning shells, moss, bark and pinecones into miniature huts. Stella's two fairy houses come complete with a boat and a canoe.
"It was more of a character education thing," Nicolette said. "It worked pretty well."
She described students working and communicating together as "a good, cooperative learning situation."
Kane drew her inspiration from woodlands she saw off the coast of Maine in the early-'90s. It was there she first spotted parents and children reconnecting with nature via sticks and stones and a little imagination.
"I was totally enchanted with the concept," Kane said.
Her books soon followed, and were designed to promote the benefits of children abandoning video games and long hours in front of the television in favor of nature.
"I was ... worried about this generation not getting outside enough to enjoy the beauty out there - the wildlife that inhabits it," she said.
Kane said exploring nature is one of the building blocks that children use to develop more abstract ideas such as math or science.
Plus, the festival "is just fun," she said.
"I get a totally wonderful response almost 100 percent of the time," Kane said.
The family event, she noted, results in "totally proud" child builders and "It's always interesting to see how excited (parents) get."
"A lot of smiles," Kane said.
Artpark is expecting between 200 and 250 fairy houses on Sunday. Kane said models she's seen over the years "can get quite fancy."
"I get a lot of fun stories told to me."
Of course, Kane also suggested simple fairy houses are often the nicest.
"I'm very excited to see the houses (at Artpark)," she said.
The Fairy House Festival runs from noon until 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 advance and $6 on Sunday. Kane will be on hand to sign copies of her work, and Faery's Nursery will present a "Magical Maze."
For more on the festival, call 754-4375 or visit www.artpark.net. For a list of participants, tips on building a model, and more on Artpark's summer season, visit our website at www.wnypapers.com/artpark.
Visit Kane online at www.fairyhouses.com/.