Spoutwood Farm’s observatory was built in 1994. The public is invited to attend open houses throughout the year to learn the history of astronomy.

Written By Jeffrey Roth, Photos by: Phil Grout

In a remote area of southern York County, Pa., not far from the Carroll County border, fairies and other fantastic creatures of western folklore, gather annually to celebrate May Day.

With Celtic music lilting in the background, the laughter of children everywhere, the scents of spring mingled with the aromas of food, trooping fairies and other types of fantasy, including a roaming Green Man contingent, visitors easily join in the beauty and and childlike joy of entering a magical realm located on the property of Spoutwood Farm, in the rolling hills near Glen Rock, Pa.

The Fairie Festival began when Rob and Lucy Wood, owners of Spoutwood Farm, sponsored a fairy-themed party for about 100 friends, said Dana “Posie” Stout, administrative assistant to Spoutwood Farm and co-producer of events.

This year’s May Day Fairie Festival will be held at Spoutwood Farm on May 2 from 12 to 6 p.m., and May 3 & 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is expected to draw as many as 16,000 visitors of all ages from the mid-Atlantic area and from all across the U.S., said Stout, who first attended a festival around “1994-ish.”

In 1999, Stout returned as a volunteer and “I quickly became a committee member; and in 2004 I became producer of the festival. In 2001 the festival inspired me to start my own children’s entertainment business as a fairy who visits birthday parties. I have since become a character not only at the festival but in the south-central Pennsylvania, area.”

Spoutwood is an organic farm that is part of the community-supported agriculture movement (CSA). The annual Fairie Festival is one part of a number of year-long educational programs and events sponsored by the farm.

The Woods, both from the Baltimore area, purchased the farm nearly three decades ago. It was not long after the couple moved to the farm that they began teaching classes on wreath-making, flower arrangements, growing flowers to dry and growing and using various herbs for culinary, medicinal and other purposes. Together, the couple wrote and published a book: The Art of Dried Flowers.

By the 1990s, the couple became interested in growing food and the the CSA movement. In 1996, the couple opened the farm to CSA activities. The farm also hosts other festivals and fairs, sponsors educational programs, such as beekeeping; and worked with Fred Ruof, an avid astronomer, to construct and develop an observatory on the property in 1994. The public is invited to attend observatory open houses throughout the year, and learn about the history of astronomy.

“I am currently building new education curricula for schools, scouts and individual learners,” said Meg Hamilton, program director at the farm. “These programs include focuses on nature, cooking, gardening, and the observatory. We currently have two learning workshops on the Spring calendar – a New Telescope Clinic paired with the observatory open house in March and an Introduction to Beekeeping Workshop series beginning in April.”

“Our resident astronomer is Chris Carpenter, who earned his Bachelor of Science in astrophysics from the Pennsylvania State University in 1997. His current interests include the future of space colonization, exoplanets and planetary geology, radio astronomy, and CCD astrophotography.”

For the vast majority of visitors, the Fairie Festival continues to be their primary point of contact with the farm. Stout said the festival is a celebration of spring and an homage to ancient cultures, particularly that of the Celts, who celebrated Beltane on the first of May. It was a celebration of rebirth, the vibrancy of nature and a tribute to nature spirits in the realm of the fey.

Marc and Chrissy Hudgins, of New Freedom, Pa., which is located about 15 minutes from the farm, are both patrons and volunteers at Spoutwood events. Marc is a computer game developer and Chrissy is a registered nurse. They are parents of two children. The couple are members of the CSA program and are volunteers for various activities and participate in other organizations.

“My husband and I moved here about 10 years ago and saw a poster for the Spoutwood Fairie Festival at a local grocery store,” Chrissy said. “We thought it sounded like a fun family outing to bring our two daughters to. ÉWe have gone every year since. We joined the CSA program the second or third time we attended and became involved in helping out with the festival at that time. We were the royal family at Spoutwood in 2009 and have been involved with the documentary that was made about the festival: Glen Rock Fae.

For the Hudgins, the festival is a family affair. Some of their Hudginses come from Rhode Island and New Jersey to attend the festival. They love the atmosphere and the setting.

“The wonderful thing is there is something for almost everyone at Spoutwood,” Chrissy said. “It is a beautiful place, a working farm with a magical quality. Nature abounds there. There are a mix of fantastic performers; music, puppets, storytellers, tea parties. Some are aimed at the children, but all are family-friendly.”

Chrissy said that the festival offers space for local groups and organizations, such as animal rescue and educational organizations. Each year, authors are on hand for book signings; artists show their work there and do demonstrations; artisans sell their handmade items; and there are food, music, strolling minstrels and other performers, she said.

“For us, it’s become a gathering of our larger community and family,” Marc said. “We go to reconnect with friends, make new ones and generally have a fine three-day weekend, celebrating the return of spring. It’s a very broad and pleasant experience. You can simply sit listening to a performer and blow bubbles all day, or you can take part in seminars, join a drum circle, dance, play, people-watch, whatever. I’ve often commented on how flexible the experience is – that you can make whatever you want of your day there, whether it’s exciting or relaxing, or both.”

For the thousands of visitors to the farm, the festival is treated as a time of renewal, a celebration of Western heritage, a time of spirituality, wonder and a sense of magic. It is a place where fairies still roam; where elves, gnomes, pixies and other denizens of magical realm revel in the grandeur of the natural world.

For more information on the festival or the farm, visit