Faerieworlds is back at Pisgah
by Andrew Hitz
It’s safe to say that a solid number of people in Eugene float a few feet off the ground. However, it’s not every day that even normal people can flit their wings and revel in a whimsical, fantastic dream state. The annual Faerieworlds Festival — which has now gone viral, with more than 14 other U.S. events springing up in its wake — offers a chance for both the frequently bewinged and the faerie tourist to visit a temporary Neverland.
A defining aspect of Faerieworlds is the way the event integrates its audiences into the entertainment. Sure, there are the international musicians, artists and exhibitors, but there’s nothing quite as quizzical as the few thousand people in fairy, druid, elfin, or any fantastical garb combo imaginable. Think the Country Fair on, oh, maybe a few more sheets of acid.
“We are constantly looking for new vendors, we are constantly looking for new artists, we get musicians from Europe, but more importantly, our guests create it,” says Robert Gould, one of Faerieworlds’ main producers.
Billy Scudder, an Emmy Award-winning actor, writer and MC of the festival, has been dressing up as the “Green Man” at Faerieworlds and other fairs and festivals for the past 35 years. His leafy costume looks like something out of Lord of the Rings, complete with green ivy, face paint and tights. Surprisingly, the guy’s over 70. Scudder was a festivalgoer at the original Renaissance Fair in Southern California and an avid Oregon Renaissance Fairgoer. Now he’s a Faerieworlds adherent.
“They were so rigid they forgot about the play,” Scudder says of the L.A. Renaissance Pleasure Fair. “Like Shakespeare said, ‘The play’s the thing.’ The story that you get the audience to follow with, that’s what its about.” Like many Renaissance fairs, the ones in California tended to become relatively exclusive, nudging people aside if they were, as Scudder puts it, “having too much fun.”
“Faerieworlds magnetizes people,” Gould says, “versus many other shows that either philosophically or practically kick you out.”
Paganism definitely plays a part in fairy-lore, but it’s more of an optional deal at Faerieworlds. “The symbols that we use in the ceremonies or on our little shrines that we create, they’re ultimately — you’ll see the pentacle or pentacle wreaths, but that’s just a really old symbol for the Earth. It’s a celebration of the Earth,” says Kelly Miller-Lopez, lead singer of mythic world fusion band Woodland and also a producer of the festival.
At Faerieworlds, there’s nothing wrong with being a social observer. Festival MC Scudder just asks that you try to make it a meaningful experience.
“Look into the eyes of the beholder,” Scudder says. “Feel the spirit of the person who speaks to you from a place of enlightenment or a place of joy.”
Some go for completely different reasons.
“I was talking to somebody today that was like, ‘Dude, you have the most amazing music set, and you have the best shopping all year,’” Gould says, laughing.
But what Gould, Scudder, Kelly Miller-Lopez and her husband and fellow organizer Emilio Miller-Lopez strive for is permanence. The established culture of Faerieworlds has been recently monumentalized with the placing of a stone circle at the middle of their Buford Park venue under the full moon.
“A lot of the stone circles in England are really old, and these are stones that people have a lot of discussion about: why they’re there and what purpose they serve,” Gould says. “Putting these here, as those stones have a lot of history, these stones begin their history this weekend, and they’ll be there, and they’ll be put with intention.”
Faerieworlds. July 30-Aug. 1. Buford Park, Mount Pisgah. Day passes $20-$24; weekend pass $60; camping pass $110. Family/friends weekend and camping passes available. faerieworlds.com