Things are looking up for wing-themed Fairy Tale Festival

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 16, 2015

 Kids and parents enjoy a variety of activities during a previous Fairy Tale Festival on the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. This year’s festival takes place June 27.

Kids and parents enjoy a variety of activities during a previous Fairy Tale Festival on the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. This year’s festival takes place June 27.

Photo provided by the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House


GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Attendees of this year’s Fairy Tale Festival should be ready to go on a high-flying adventure.

The fifth annual festival — which takes place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. June 27 on the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores — is titled “Things with Wings: Fairy Tales at Ford House.” Along those lines, organizers plan to introduce creatures, characters and creations that fly, from planes to fairies to birds to caped superheroes.

Highlights this year include performances by Magic Carpet Theatre and Grosse Pointe Theatre’s Youth on Stage, radio-controlled airplane demonstrations, soaring on an air jumper, a bat demonstration by Cranbrook Institute of Science’s Organization for Bat Conservation, roving characters played by members of All the World’s a Stage, crafts and music by Grosse Pointe Mompreneurs, stories in the gardens, face painting, a contained beehive demonstration, games and more.

At 11 a.m. in the New Garden, Ford House Associate Vice President for Education and Visitor Experience Megan Wood said, there will be a butterfly release of about 300 native Michigan species, including monarchs. The Michigan Native Butterfly Farm, which is coordinating the release, will be on hand with an informational display.

With multiple gardens near the butterfly release site, “It’s a great environment for them,” Wood said.

The Grosse Pointe Public Library’s summer reading program theme is superheroes, and the GPPL and Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library will be giving away books to children during the festival, Wood said.

“Always, we’re looking at early literacy and reading among families,” she said. “(This is) about having a safe, fun family event that has some educational value to it and continues to show families in the area that (the Ford House) is a place for them.”

The concept for this year’s festival came about last year when the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce announced plans for a butterfly bench fundraiser for its nonprofit Grosse Pointe Chamber Foundation. The benches, which have been decorated by local artists, will be placed around the Pointes this summer and will be auctioned off this fall.

“Using that as the inspiration … we (knew we) would be able to draw from a lot of storybooks,” Wood said. These include time-honored tales like “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” along with more modern classics like “How to Train Your Dragon.”

“All of the benches will be here for the festival, and it’s the only time people will be able to see them all at once,” said Ann Fitzpatrick, vice president of communications at the Ford House.

Unlike previous festivals, this one isn’t accompanied by a related art exhibition.

From past festivals, organizers discovered “that people wanted to be actively” engaging in programs, Fitzpatrick said.

While there isn’t an exhibition to see, visitors will have plenty of reasons to return throughout the summer, as there are special events related to “Things with Wings” all season, including daily nature discovery activities for children from June 28-Aug. 30; “Things with Wings” weekends from July 11-Aug. 30 that include crafts and stories; a fairy garden design class at 10 a.m. July 25; and a family bird walk at 9 a.m. Aug. 22. Adults are invited to create a winged ceramic artwork with Pewabic instructors, accompanied by wine and cheese, at 6 p.m. July 16 and Aug. 13. The classes require advance reservations.

The Ford House’s Cotswold Café won’t be open, but “there’s food (available for purchase) on-site and plenty of water stations (around the grounds to buy water),” Fitpatrick said. Attendees also can bring their own water.

Organizers recommend using a running stroller to get through the sometimes rough terrain, as well as bringing sunscreen and mosquito repellant. Some families bring wagons, as well. Comfortable shoes and clothing appropriate for outdoor activity are encouraged. Some children like to come to the festival in costumes.

The festival is recommended for children ages 2-10. Fitzpatrick said attendance is usually around 2,000 for the day.

“We’re always about providing opportunities for families to make memories together, because the Ford family was all about making memories,” she said. “And for a lot of families, this is their first visit to a historic site, and that can be intimidating, so this is … (an event that’s) welcoming.”

Tickets for the Fairy Tale Festival cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door. The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore in Grosse Pointe Shores, between Vernier and Nine Mile roads. For reservations or more information, call (313) 882-4222 or visit