In 2019, a group of onlookers watched a sword fight at FantasyWood. Photo courtesy of ManneqArt.
A group of witches cooks children in a cauldron. Zombies sneak around looking for spare body parts. Colorful mermaids splash in the tank. These are just some of the fantastical scenes seen on a 400-acre farm in central Howard County over Memorial Day weekend. Just these three days, Living Farm Heritage Museum (12985 Frederick Road, West Friendship District, Maryland), which usually hosts educational nature walks and a vintage car show, will transform into the magical forest of the Fantasy Forest Festival.
Costume designer Lee Andersen, who runs an arts and education nonprofit based in Columbia, Maryland Mannek Art, created the festival to spark the creativity of the local community. “We’re just looking for people to take a deep breath of fresh air and live in a world completely removed from real life,” she said.
and Inner Arbor Trustmanages Merriweather Park, and Circus Siren Pod Mermaid troupe Andersen held the first FantasyWood Music Festival in the Art and Culture Park in 2019, which was a great success, with about 5,000 people present. Andersen wanted to make the festival an annual event, but Covid happened, causing it to be cancelled for both 2020 and 2021.
Instead of letting all the materials for the festival sit idle for no one to enjoy, she moved them all into an old supermarket and turned it into a 15,000-square-foot art installation called Doodle hatch. Like FantasyWood, kids can enter a world full of fairy tales and ancient myths. They can learn about space on the interstellar space station, hop on a giant’s bed, or take art classes in creature carving or screenwriting. People can even donate and create their own artwork to submit to galleries.
While DoodleHatch is a seemingly temporary solution to a problem, it’s not going anywhere. But the artwork inside the gallery will be used for this year’s FantasyWood, as well as a series of new installations. There will be a Time Fluxer that kids can use to travel through time, a 30-foot dragon called Hendrik the Drake that kids can ride (with the risk of being eaten), and a boat from the Kids TV Channel. The giant pirate ship Junior sent by Nick.
This may seem childish to some, but FantasyWood isn’t just for kids. Andersen said there will be handsome vampires and ogres to provide adults with Bloody Marys and Mudslides. Customers can also grab a quick bite from Swamp Snack Shack, which sells gingerbread made with “fire ants” and “mold” popcorn. (Relax: Other vendors will offer more recognizable fare, like tacos and hamburgers.)
Regardless of age, festivalgoers are encouraged to dress in any fantasy outfit of their choice, whether it’s a pieced together pirate outfit or a full steampunk outfit. The only caveats are that no weapons (real or fake) are allowed and the clothing must be suitable for children. If you don’t have the energy to make your own clothing, FantasyWood has vendors selling bouquets, headwear and other accessories.
A sort of ticket This magical vacation costs $20 and a three-day pass is $60. Children three and under are admitted free, and free parking is provided.
2022 Fantasy Wood Festival To be held at Living Farm Heritage Museum (12985 Frederick Road, West Friendship, Maryland) Saturday, May 28 to Monday, May 30.