JOLIET – If you notice glittery skies over the next few weeks, don’t worry.
It’s just residual pixie dust floating about the atmosphere.
Not one but two fairy-themed festivals will flit through the Joliet area, offering area children the chance to get their wings on and experience some magical – and fun – activities.
On Saturday, for the 10th year, Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet will host its annual Fairy Fest and Pancake Breakfast. And May 16, Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm will host its second annual Pixie Fairies and Pirates Festival.
The veteran glitter-duster on the block, Pilcher’s Fairy Fest, offers fairy flower walks, fairy food, enchanted crafts, winged hostesses, wand-making, fairy-related items for sale, horse-drawn carriage rides and even more than you can shake a wand at.
Last year’s event attracted more than 1,000 people, said Katie Zaban, Pilcher Park Nature Center manager and a fest organizer for the past five years. The landscape was wands and flowers everywhere, she said.
“I just love seeing the kids having a good time, smiling and enjoying the park,” Zaban said. “We have all kinds of fairies, not just the pink and purple kind, but earth and wind and flower fairies, too.”
And, yes, even boys attend Fairy Fest.
“They usually wear knights costumes,” Zaban said, “and we’ve had a few dragons.”
In fact, Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm wants boys at its event, so organizers changed the name this year to include pirates.
“We noticed there were some boys that came out last year, our first year doing this, but it seemed to be a lot of brothers just coming along, and we wanted it to appeal to both boys and girls, so we decided to add pirates to the event,” manager Kaity Siegel said. “We got the idea from ‘Peter Pan,’ where they have both the fairies and the pirates.”
However, Siegel said, dressing up isn’t gender-based, and children can come dressed in whatever costume they wish.
Kids will have the chance to meet Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and Jake the Pirate, take a trek to the Enchanted Forest aboard the Neverland Voyager, test flying skills on fairy and pirate jumping pillows, play in Port Cottonwood’s Pirate Ship and Enchanted Castle, feed the pixie goats “sweet fairy morsels,” sail down Captain Zach’s 16-foot slide, work on various arts and crafts, eat special fairy- and pirate-themed snacks, and more.
Attendees also can play with the Queen of the Fairies herself, a part played by Siegel. She loves making kids smile and laugh, but that’s not the only reason Siegel enjoys the role.
“I grew up with three brothers, and I didn’t have the chance to like a lot of girly things,” Siegel said.
Siegel said the event was started as a way to provide a fun and unique gathering that also got kids outside in the fresh air. Last year, Siegel said, the weather was beautiful, and hundreds of kids attended
“We’re hoping that this year’s is even more popular,” Siegel said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Fairy Fest and Pancake Breakfast
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Pilcher Park Nature Center, 2501 Highland Park Drive, Joliet
COST: $10 for patrons age 2 and up for the festival; $5 extra for the pancake breakfast
WHAT: Pixie Fairies and Pirates
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 16
WHERE: Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm, 17250 S. Weber Road, Lockport
COST: $19.95 per fairy or lil’ pirate (lunch included). Parents, grandparents and kids younger than 2 are free (lunch not included but available for purchase).