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Since 2010 I've had the pleasure to be part of an event that's become one of my favorite Halloween experiences: The All Hallows Fantasy Faire in the lovely town of Sonora, CA.

Sonora is a beautiful city just at the foothills of the Sierras. Formerly a mining town, Sonora is part of the area known as Gold Country, and was settled in 1848 by miners from Sonora , Mexico , giving the town its name. It no longer hosts prospectors, but the place retains the ambience of an earlier time with its brick and iron structures and walkways.

Today, home to museums, shops, galleries and theaters, it also boasts a numbers of festivals, including the Fire On The Mountain Blues Festival, the Sonora
Celtic Faire, and All Hallows. Organized by some of the talents behind the Celtic Faire (and the year's end Christmas Faire), the All Hallows Fantasy Faire is a wonderful hodgepodge of games, music, magic and the very macabre.

 

 


The lovely Christine dressed as an exquisite Harlequin beast tamer among
the
Beastcub Creatures, a wonderful troupe of anthropomorphicized creatures
that appear annually at the Faire

What I enjoy most about the All Hallows Faire is that, unlike other medieval events, All Hallows isn't locked into one time period or event. Whereas most Renaissance Faires are set in or around the time of Queen Elizabeth, or deal with historical recreations such as the trial of Mary, Queen of Scotts or the sea voyages of Captain Cook, All Hallows has only one theme: Halloween, in all its variety and visages.

Thus, knights from Old Englande share the glen with zombies from the apocalypse; Steampunk ladies in their Victorian neo-scientific finery walk among vampires and Faerie folk, and Jason and Freddy Krueger share refreshments with Burke and Hare or Lady Macbeth. To paraphrase a popular advertising slogan, “What happens at the All Hallows Fantasy Faire…” well, I can't say, “stays at the Faire”, because it doesn't; for the past six years the event has grown, and I'm more than delighted to be part of it, however small.


Relaxing on my storytelling stage between audiences and jugglers.

A Reaper and his lovely companion tour the Vendor's Lanes.

 

 

A group of skull-decorated musicians dressed in black tour the grounds of the fair several times throughout the day. Known as the Danse Macabre, they invite the guests to accompany them on their route, particularly those festooned in decorous or eerie attire. On one of their circuits I was invited to join the parade, and I did with as much enthusiasm (and very little grace) as I was able to muster. While I'll never be mistaken for Nijinsky, I think my zeal was appreciated by all.

 

 

The beautiful steampunk Airship Mariposa is always a welcome attraction at All Hallows, particularly among the very young attendees. Created by a steampunk fan group also known as Airship Mariposa, the vehicle is a labor of love and the centerpiece of the organization located in, naturally enough, Mariposa, CA .

I am often invited to join my young companions on their imaginary voyages, and have been pleased and honored to act as either crew or commander when the Airship sets sail. You can see my stalwart sailors above, ready to tackle any challenge.

(Airship Marposa holds monthly meetings; membership is free, and families are welcome. For more information you can log onto their Facebook Page
HERE.


 

 


All hands on deck! I prepare to navigate the Airship Mariposa into uncharted realms of macabre adventure!

 

 

Normally my theater is at the very entrance to the fairgrounds, so that people coming in for the first time can stop and listen to a spooky tale to get in the mood for the event. I enjoy being there, and seem to make new friends every year because of it. (I should note that I usually share the stage with my delightful juggling companions Mountain Motion as well as a musician or dancer or both!)

In 2011, the year of this particular set of photos, they'd decided to try placing the stage further inside the event, in the middle of one of the marketplace lanes. I think that they believed it would increase our audience, but we all agreed the stage worked better at its previous location.

Nevertheless we were able to attract some respectable crowds. You'll note the lovely young creature in the white top hat beneath the parasol is my beloved Olivia Nevermore, assistant to the amazing Professor Algernon, the steampunk magician of the Faire. (You can see the good Professor himself in the photo at the very bottom left.) I'm not certain what tale I'm telling, but I seem to be holding their attention!

 


The lovely Olivia and some of the dancers of Adamantine strike a fearsome and beautiful zombie pose.

A young (and very handsome) member of Danse Macabre rattles the bones to wake the Dead!

 


My human companions, the juggling troupe Mountain Motion share the stage at the Faire's entrance.

 

Each year that I've attended, among my other adventures, I've shared the stage with jugglers, belly dancers and illusionists, helped to host the costume contest, danced with the roving plague musicians Danse Macabre, told stories to the Court of the Faerie Queen (and been honored by Her Majesty twice) and shared midnight tales at the huge brass dragon. This past year, though, I had an altogether new and exciting experience.

Every year Saturday concludes with a fire dance and a wicker man, in honor of both the ancient Pagan tradition and the marvelously eerie Christopher Lee film. There's a lighting ceremony, the twirlers, jugglers and fire-eaters perform, and the Danse Macabre musicians play while participants dance around the circle. This year the group asked me to be part of the celebration, and I had a splendid time, circling with the others, shaking hands with all the customers watching and wishing them a happy All Hallows.

 

To Patrick, Gary and Lissa, the organizers; to my companions Mountain Motion, the beautiful Olivia and the good Professor; to the beasts of Beastcub, the Faeries of the Realm and the Faerie Queen; to the legendary Kaotic Mythicals and Danse Macabre; to the wonderful ladies of Witches Row; to all the musicians and merchants, and most of all to all of you who've come to hear my tales and greet your favorite spectre – thank you! Thank you so much for a spectacular venue and spooktacular event; I will see you all in this autumn!


 

© 2014 Patient Creatures Ltd.