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Fairy house tour wings way back to Seacoast

Union Leader Correspondent
September 19. 2018 12:43PM
A little winged visitor looks for fairies among the miniature homes built for the annual Portsmouth Fairy House Tour. (CAROLINE PIPER)

PORTSMOUTH — The world’s largest fairy house tour is taking place in Portsmouth this weekend, say organizers of a popular family festival.

Now in its 14th year, the tour on Saturday and Sunday will feature more than 200 handcrafted fairy houses made by local artists, florists, garden club members, businesses, families and school children.

Author Tracy Kane’s Fairy Houses Series inspired the Friends of the South End to start the annual event. Between 6,500 and 8,000 people attend the weekend showcase, and they travel from New England and beyond, said organizer Caroline Piper.

“Typically, it’s a beautiful weekend, and the gardens still look lovely,” Piper said.

The tour takes place at Strawbery Banke Museum, the Governor John Langdon House and Prescott Park.

In addition to the fairy houses, there will be entertainment from the New Hampshire Theatre Project (NHTP), of Portsmouth, and Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater (SNHDT), from Bedford.

“It’s a nice assortment of activities,” Piper said. “I’m always surprised to see how engaged everyone is.”

Genevieve Aichele, of NHTP, said four middle and high school students will be performing poems and singing songs about fairies this year. Performances last about 15 minutes and will take place at 10:45 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Langdon Woods.

SNHDT’s Trisha Lavoie said the troupe will be performing a 20-minute Fairy House ballet on the Prescott Park Arts Festival stage Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

Lavoie said her dancers became involved in The Fairy House Tour in 2008.

“It’s kind of become a tradition with us. It’s super fun,” Lavoie said.

There will also be face painting and fairy skaters at Strawbery Banke, according to the event’s website.

Kane said that since Portsmouth launched its Fairy House Tour, other towns and cities have created their own festivals. The concept is based on the fairy houses built by visitors to coastal Maine. That tradition started about 60 years ago, Kane said.

“It’s hands on, getting you out into nature,” Kane said of building fairy houses. “We really discourage the use of plastic or other man-made materials.”

There is an invitational contest this weekend in Portsmouth for fairy house builders. Kane is a judge.

“It always has astounded me — I can still be surprised by the way someone approaches it,” Kane said. “Their personalities will really come through.”

The Fairy House Tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets are $30 per family or $15 per adult, $10 for seniors and $5 for children ages 3 to 12.

Proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships are donated to South End organizations, Portsmouth schools and local civic groups that participate in the tour.

For more information and to buy tickets in advance, visit www.portsmouthfairyhousetour.com. Tented ticket booths will be at the Gov. John Langdon House on Pleasant Street and across from Prescott Park on Marcy Street.

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