It’s the season of costumes for those young and old and this weekend’s All Hallow’s Fantasy Faire puts cosplay on display, along with a celebration of ancient Celtic and Viking cultures.
This year’s eighth annual event will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23, at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora.
The public is encouraged to sport costumes when they hit the two-day Fantasy Faire, which features live music, a variety of other entertainers, encampments, displays, activities, food and more, along with the increasingly popular Burning of the Harvestman on Saturday night.
The Fantasy Faire puts a “strong focus on creativity in regards to costumes,” said co-creator Patrick Karnahan. “In fact we encourage the public to design original costumes and not wear store-bought items.”
What people can’t wear is clown costumes. In response to a national outbreak of creepy clown incidents, festival organizers outlawed clowns.
This year the post-Burning-of-the-Harvestman festivities will expand with a larger adult-geared celebration featuring a variety of live music.
“We know that people love to dance and we have some good dance bands for the occasion,” Karnahan said. The night’s headliner will be Tragically White, fronted by two female lead singers. Also performing will be Vintage Vandals with their “high-octane rockabilly.”
Karnahan said that the harvestman burning and fire show have morphed after just five years into the largest-attended event at the All Hallows Fantasy Faire. It takes place on Saturday night, at one hour past sunset.
“During the ceremony there is some spiritual drumming as well as a complete fire show with fire spinners and the like,” he said. “According to the Celtic custom or tradition, after the fall harvest was collected, people would give good thanks for the harvest and hope that after winter has come and gone a new crop in the new year would begin.”
Karnahan said attendees are given an opportunity to write a “message to their loved ones who’ve crossed over to the other side. At first it was just a few people, maybe just die-hard Celts or pagan types. Now it seems that everybody wants to participate and be there for the full burning ceremony.”
Also added this year are re-enactment and costume performers, including a hypnotist, sword swallower, juggler comedian and two new dance troupes. Also added: new vendors and culturally diverse food items.
With a theme celebrating “Ancient New Year Traditions of the Celts and Vikings,” the fair will highlight historical organizations that portray ancient Celtic lifestyles as well as Celtic myths and legends, Karnahan said. There will be an Old World Market and modern Celtic vendors selling Celtic goods, both imported and hand made.
Daytime events have plenty of family attractions including a costume contest and trick-or-treating with vendors on Saturday. There will be story times with a Queens Court filled with fairytale characters, a pirate cove, ancient warrior battles, bubble fairy, Mythical Lore Land, live action role play, face painting and more. Magician Professor Algernon also will be on hand.
About 3,000 people passed through the gates last year.
“It’s fun and once you have experienced it, you will find it hard to miss this experience in the future. We have a growing loyal following that look forward to this event all year long,” he said.
“I think people love the fall atmosphere of the grounds in Sonora,” Karnahan said. “The trees are all a bright yellow, the day is warm and the night is cool. People love to come and dress up in fantastic creative costumes and watch and interact with others of the same. The folks that come to this event are always in such a good mood and have fun and seem to forget their worries of the world.”
All Hallows Fantasy Faire
When: Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23
Where: Mother Lode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora
Tickets: $14 advance, $18 gate adults Saturday; $12 advance, $15 gate adult Sunday; $5 kids 6-12 presale, $7 kids at the gate