The Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens will be overtaken with mythical beings large and small this weekend during Meerkerk Magic.
The event, which began in 2002, is an opportunity for children of all ages to visit the gardens and join in creating their own fairy dolls. Children use materials gathered from the garden, such as sticks, dried flowers and leaves, as well as manmade materials such as ribbon and beads, to craft the dolls.
Meerkerk Magic will take place from noon-4 p.m. Saturday, April 11 at the gardens, 3531 Meerkerk Lane south of Greenbank. Refreshments are provided. Admission is $5; children under age 16 are admitted free.
Children are encouraged to dress up in anything, from wings to tutus or sparkling dresses.
Emily Fiedler, age 12, has attended for the past four years, and now lends her assistance to the younger doll makers.
She lets her imagination guide her creations and encourages younger architects to follow suit.
“I like how they fly,” she said of her affinity with fairies.
She and her sister, 9-year-old Hayley Fiedler, were inspired to create their own fairy garden complete with the houses and dolls they have fashioned over the years.
Their fairies reside in the shade of a small tree in their front yard, decorated with a sign which reads: “fairies live here.”
On Monday afternoon, Emily Fiedler sported a blue and sea-green tutu she had made especially for Easter and Meerkerk Magic festivities.
Her mother, Tasha Fiedler, said she would likely enjoy dressing up in fey-style garb a bit more than her daughters, but Hayley and Emily usually get into the spirit with bright colors and one or two accessories fit for the occasion.
Joan Bell, Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens operations manager, said seeing “all the cute little outfits and the glee the children have” is the most enjoyable aspect of the event.
Bell added that because the event is outdoors, she encourages children to bring warm clothing such as coats and hats in case of poor weather.
Christine Smith, a neighbor of the Fiedlers, volunteers at the gardens and Meerkerk Magic. She applauded the Fiedlers’ creativity, and added that it’s always a treat to see what all of the doll makers come up with.
She recalled that at last year’s event, Hayley Fiedler crafted a doll called the “Beast 3,000” which she intended to be the pet of her fairy.
“It looked like a beast,” Smith said.
Tasha Fiedler noted with a chuckle that she was fairly certain her daughter had come up with the name based upon Marshawn Lynch’s nickname, “Beast Mode.”
Hayley Fiedler was spending the day in Burlington and wasn’t available to comment.
“There are so many choices of what to make your fairy out of,” Emily Fiedler said.
Usually, dolls last through the summer and are able to inhabit the fairy houses made during the August event.
Smith and Bell said that additional assistance is always welcome during Meerkerk Magic, which is staffed entirely by volunteers.
Those who wish to lend a hand should contact the gardens at 360-222-0121 or 360-678-1912.