Spoutwood Farm's spring fairie festival coming to a closeIt's the fairies' last flight in southern York County
It's hard to imagine now because of the bitter cold temperatures and short - mostly gray - winter days. But signs of warm weather soon will emerge.
People will happily throw open their windows and flock to car washes to give their vehicles much-needed baths. And by May, signs of new life - green lawns, budding plants, freshly planted crops - will hit their stride: high Spring, some describe it.
One rural York County couple, Lucy and Rob Wood, embarked on a journey 27 years ago to formerly celebrate spring’s awakening.
It was May 1991 and the Woods heralded the change of seasons with their first May Day Fairie Festival. About 150 people showed up, said Rob Wood, who owns Spoutwood Farm in Codorus Township with his wife, Lucy.
But year after year the festival has grown. People came by the hundreds at first, then by the thousands, peaking at 16,000 attendees in 2006 and 2007, right before the recession.
Children and adults have embraced the festival's whimsical nature, donning colorful winged dresses, headgear and outfits made of flowers and leaves. And mud. Lots of mud if the weather turns rainy.
In the past 10 years, thousands continued to flock annually to the farm, now a nonprofit, packing two-lane roads for the 3-day weekend.
This year, the Woods announced that it's the last year for the festival. The traffic, the crowds, the location - their age, Wood is 72 - have become too much.
"We made the decision. It needs to move somewhere else. We would love for it to continue, but the township, they have been nervous. The traffic, the parking," Wood said.
The festival is the primary fundraiser for the farm. From 2013 to 2015, the net income from the festival exceeded $150,000 annually, recent 990 filings show. It’s most of the farm’s income. Of the annual expenses, wages eat away at most of the budget.
Cutbacks will have to happen, Wood said. Bare bones in comparison without the festival.
"The farm will have to scale back," Wood said. "It’s very difficult. We will have to scale it down, put more of our personal money into the grounds, which we already do."
The Woods made the official announcement on the annual festival last week in an email.
Spoutwood is located on 27 acres of farmland. Last year, heavy rain forced the early closure of the festival, the first time in the event’s history.
The Woods are hoping another entity continues the festival at another location, which is not an easy task because its location, so rare for large gatherings in a rural setting, is what makes the festival so special.
"We are just starting to get people together to to talk about possible other venues. But that’s a tricky thing, the festival had an air of magic because of the farm," Wood said. “Some suggested holding it at the (York) Fairgrounds. Uh, no. that’s not a magical place to hold a festival.”
They are also looking at other private farms, but traffic and access will always be a concern.
Closing the festival at Spoutwood was not an easy choice.
"We are going to have to say goodbye to a lot of people," Wood said.
If you go:
This year’s event will be held on May 4, 5 and 6.