This is my second year behind the scenes of Fantasy Faire where the magic happens, dinkie cats and Tiny Sheriffs run rampant and squirrels are served with morning coffee. The first year I was so new to everything that I felt I didn’t catch but a glimpse of what truly goes into making the Fairelands return every year. This year I’m much more experienced and therefore can reliably say that I will probably never grasp all the details of this megaevent, but what little I do has filled me with extreme respect toward the people who pull this off, year after year.
This is the sixth Fantasy Faire, sixth year when the Fairelands emerge on the grid, on this virtual plane we all live in, this strange reality we all share and love. I know the true veterans have a deeper understanding of the reasons, about the Faire itself, but the true veterans tend to be busy to the tips of their possibly elven ears or demonic horns and since my job here has me constantly writing, I figured I would scribble about this, too.
I have been thinking about the Faire and what it is during this week and I felt I had to say one thing, and say it very clearly. Fantasy Faire is not a Shopping Event. There is shopping involved, sure. We have nine whole sims dedicated only to shopping, over 150 merchants filling them, creators bringing in their best efforts, their labors of love to the Faire and linden dollars flow from visitor hands to kiosks day and night. Shopping is a big part of the Faire, but it is not a Shopping Event like we have all become used to these last few years. It is not about discounts, about latest themes and trends, it is not about exclusives or rare gacha prizes. There are all of those present amongst the Faire-wares, but they are not the essence of the Faire.
What is it then, you might ask. I could give you numbers in response if you happen to be statistically inclined. I could show spreadsheets covering over hundred hours of DJs playing aboard a dragon-borne ship, I could mention five fantastic live music concerts, I could attempt to describe the shows the almost ten jail and bail events turned to, speak about the puzzles of the hunt, mention the nearly thirty fantasy artists’s work visible in the Palace of Tears, link the posts of over sixty bloggers showing you the best of the Faire, marvel at the four roleplay groups weaving stories within the Fairelands, show you the true shinies of the auctions… oh, the statistics are breathtaking.
I could describe the sims, the Fairelands themselves, the immersion, the inspiration, the tangible fleeting beauty of life: virtual or not, the feeling is the same. Every year they rise in a different shape, but with the same spirit of wonder and promise. Every year they take our breath away, every year they speak to us if we have the ability to listen. They speak in the language of imagination and immersion, in the tone of devotion and effort. They come with a high price every year, with countless hours and nerves spent and broken, with hopes and dedication channeled into them and yet they rise, again and again, for the world-makers find that price worth paying.
I could speak of the community formed behind this, of the ties created in the insane insomniac hours, of having each other’s back, the feeling of being in this madness together. I could describe how the stress turns into laughter, into hijinks and shenanigans, tiny bands and dinkies on motorbikes, flash mobs, troll toll booths, crazy vehicles zooming around the Fairelands.
I could speak of the Cause, the Charity, the Relay. I have been personally so fortunate that my life has not been touched by this struggle at all, but that does not mean I cannot see the Cause or be touched by the people fighting on, be brought to tears by the stories, the shared desire to help, to defeat this enemy that has no physical form to attack, to win the fight where our weapons are perseverance, faith and hope.
I could write lengthy essays on any of those subjects, but the one thing I feel common in them is spirit. The feeling of being a part of something bigger, something shared. The Fairelands are created and brought on the grid for a brief time by a group that might be surprisingly small or surprisingly large, depending how familiar you are with this kind of processes, but what makes The Fairelands live is the visitors. All of you who come into the Faire without knowing what to expect just to be immersed into the surroundings, all of you who can be still touched by beauty, all of you with the spirit of wonder, all of you still able to feel hope.
Fantasy Faire is an immersive experience. It is meant to be felt, wandered and lived in. We all move there for its duration to soak in every possible moment of magic we can before the time is up. In that way the Fairelands are a perfect metaphor for life and what we all should focus on: beauty, magic, wonder. I sincerely hope the Faire has managed to reach out and share its spirit with as many visitors as possible.
Imagination, inspiration, immersion.
– Sonya Marmurek
The Blogger Wrangler, Site Scribbler and the Resident Faire Bunny