PM Press Blog

Fairy Fest Brings Ithaca Community Together Despite Snowstorm

The Cornell Daily Sun

Despite bleak winter temperatures and dreadful, dropping snow, many locals and Cornellians gathered in the Ithaca Commons and the surrounding downtown area on March 23 to celebrate Fairy Fest, a spring festival where attendees enjoyed a day of crafts and fun in various downtown businesses dressed as fairies, elves and other magical creatures. 

This year marked the event’s third anniversary. While still a relatively new tradition in the Ithaca community, the event has grown every year. More than 30 local businesses and organizations participated this year, with new additions such as Circus Culture — Ithaca’s very own circus school — and the Ithaca Community School of Music and Arts — which is a nonprofit organization that provides arts instruction to adults and children and presents performances in its downtown Ithaca facility.  

The initial inspiration for Fairy Fest was to bring the Ithaca community together in preparation for  springtime. 

“I wanted to do a fun activity in March, because a lot of times around here, we’re ready for spring before it’s quite spring,” said Greta Perl, the owner of the toystore Alphabet Soup and the organizer of the Fairy Fest. “So, I wanted to do something that could get people out of the house, [have] some fun [and have] a little springtime magic.”

However, the weather during the festival was unseasonably cold for spring, as snow and freezing rain showered attendees throughout the event. 

Even through the snowstorm, Perl remained unfazed.

“The weather is not with us, but the whole festival is indoors — nothing is outdoors,” Perl said. “So put on your boots, your hat, and come on down anyways. Nothing is canceled due to a little bit of snow.”

Fairy Fest attendees had a wide range of choices of activities to do and places to visit, including making flower crowns in Alphabet Soup, visiting a Fairy Dance party at CSMA and eating Fairy toast brunch at Café Dewitt

Although most activities at Fairy Fest cater towards children, many adults attended the festival as well.  Subscribe to our daily newsletter!

“Even adults just want to be a kid for a day, have fun and do a little craft project,” Perl said. “But one of the activities that [are] geared more towards older folks is [the] leather working workshop with one of [Handwork’s] local artists. Also at Buffalo Street Books, they are doing a Celtic knot project which an older teen or adult might appreciate.” 

Jessie Williams, the organizer of the Fairy Fest for Autumn Leaves Used Books, said that she appreciated not only the selection of activities but also that the vast majority of the events were free of charge.

“I just like that it’s a free resource, a free event for the community,” Williams said. “I think there needs to be more of those things.”

Jennifer Engel, the owner of The Cat’s Pajamas — a store that calls itself a “general store for kids and kids at heart” — commented on how community events like Fairy Fest bring people together and foster a unique Ithaca community. 

“I just love every single person who chooses to participate, especially on a day like today, where we all got up, and we’re like, ‘oh, we’re just gonna stay in bed all day?’ Nope. That didn’t happen,” Engel said.  

However, some attendees wished the event occurred later in the year, when the weather is  conducive to wearing fairy costumes, which typically do not provide sufficient warmth for the snow and wind. 

“I wanted to [dress up], but I don’t have a lot of winter fairy garb — so I guess it’s just going to be heavy mittens and a hat,” said Silas Kujuwa Luce, another event attendee. “[A] part of me [thinks Fairy Fest] should be in May. I think that seems like a nicer time for dressing up. … It would really give you the freedom to actually dress the part.” 

But to Ithacans who look forward to Fairy Fest year after year, snow and wind did not keep them at home. Zachary Smith, who brought his five-year-old daughter to the event, said that his daughter looked forward to this year’s event after the two attended the Fairy Fest last year.

“I don’t think rain or shine or the weather would’ve stopped [my five year old daughter] from coming. We came last year. She’s been looking forward to it for weeks,” Smith said. “She said to me, ‘Dad, are there places that do not celebrate Fairy Fest?’ and kind of like ‘Yeah.’ It’s something we choose to do here that’s a really nice activity that (…) brings people to town. [Fairy Fest] is very much in the vein of Ithaca’s hospitality and tourism.” 

Taehee Oh ’27 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].