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Meet the Honorary King & Queen of a Midsummer Night’s Dream

Dan_and_MichelleThe most magical night of the year is coming soon! On June 27, fairies take over our storybook park for a Midsummer evening of magic, merriment, music… and ice cream! It’s our annual ice cream social inspired by Shakespeare’s famous fairy play.

Before the fun, we wanted to introduce you to this year’s Honorary King and Queen of the Fairies, Dan and Michelle from Mix96!  Dan and Michelle are the husband-and-wife morning show team at Mix96. We’re thrilled that Dan and Michelle will be presiding over the festivities and emceeing the event. Read on to learn more about Dan, Michelle and a few of their favorite things!

Tell us about your history and experience with Fairytale Town.

(Michelle) When we first moved to Sacramento we took our family and our son lived what he’s only read in books.  AMAZING

What are you most looking forward to at A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Crystal Ice Cream Fantasy? 

(Dan) ICE CREAM!  Really can use some ice cream right now!

We have to ask: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?!

(Dan) Mint Chip (Michelle) Fudge Brownie – Please tell me you’ll have fudge brownie!

 And your favorite Shakespeare play?  Why?

(Dan and Michelle) Romeo and Juliet – I wish we could say it’s because our life is a modern day version of the classic tale, but it’s not!  We just love Leonardo DiCaprio…

If you could be any fairytale or storybook character, who would you be?  Why?

(Dan) Jack and the Bean stock – Because he reached for the stars.

Thanks Dan and Michelle!


Humpty Dumpty Week

It’s Humpty Dumpty Week at Fairytale Town! We’re celebrating the arrival of our Humpty Dumpty plush doll with a week-long contest.

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Each day from May 18 through May 24, Humpty will be hiding somewhere in our storybook park. The first guest to find the Humpty Dumpty paper doll and return him to the Box Office will win a Fairytale Town prize pack containing a new Humpty Dumpty plush doll, admission for four, and a Magic Key! Clues will be posted on our Facebook page every morning to aid guests in their search.

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The new Humpty Dumpty plush doll is $19 per doll and is available for purchase at the Box Office or online.

Official Rules:

1. The Humpty Dumpty week contest takes place from Monday, May 18 through Sunday, May 24, 2015. The contest will he held during regular business hours. Adults must be accompanied by children.

2. One Humpty Dumpty paper doll will be hidden within Fairytale Town each day from May 18-24, 2015. All participants must pay admission to enter Fairytale Town to participate in the contest.

3. If the paper doll is not found by the end of each day, Fairytale Town reserves the right to extend or cancel the contest for that day.

4. Once the paper doll is found it must be redeemed at the Fairytale Town box office in order to claim the prize. All winners will be announced via Facebook and Fairytale Town’s weekly e-newsletter, The Humpty Report. Only one prize awarded per day.

5. Fairytale Town employees and their relatives are unable to participate in this contest.

6. Fairytale Town reserves the right to cancel this contest or change the rules.


Meet Walter & Marlene Goetzeler of Freeport Bakery

FreeportBakeryThose attending the Mad Hatter Meets the Great Gatsby party on April 23 are in for a sweet treat! Marlene and Walter Goetzeler, owners of Freeport Bakery for 28 years, will be serving as the evening’s Honorary Chairs and sampling some of the Bakery’s best-loved items. Plus, the Bakery’s head decorator will be giving a very special demonstration during the event.

Read on to learn more about the Goetzelers—Marlene was just named one of the region’s Women Who Mean Business by the Sacramento Business Journal—and Freeport Bakery.

Tell us about Freeport Bakery and some of the delicious items you make. 

We are a full-line bakery but we are known mostly for our cakes. Some of the favorites are the Fruit Basket and the Champagne cakes. People come from all over just for those cakes.

What items will you be showcasing for guests at the party on April 23?

Our buttermilk cake with raspberry buttercream and tart lemon, along with some other great cakes.

What can you tell us about the decorating demonstration Carol Clevenger, your head decorator, will be doing at the party?

Carol Clevenger is an amazing cake artist. She will be decorating what we call a topsy-turvy cake in honor of the Mad Hatter. She will show how when using fondant you can make some really fun designs.

And because it’s Mad Hatter Meets The Great Gatsby, we have to ask—what’s your favorite? Alice in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby, or both? Why?

Marlene: Probably The Great Gatsby. I read it again recently and realized what a great storyteller Fitzgerald was.

If you could be any character from Alice in Wonderland or The Great Gatsby, who would you be? Why?

Marlene: I wasn’t sure so I took an online test to see which character I would be. I was told Alice. I’ll have to think about that one.


Big DoG Helps Little Lambs, Miniature Kids, Small Rabbits & Tiny Hens

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From midnight to midnight on May 5th, 2015, more than 150 communities across the country will gather for one BIG Day of Giving, or BIG DoG as we affectionately call it. With the hope of reaching millions of donors and raising more than $100 million nationwide, each community will rally support for the vital work of local nonprofits.

Fairytale Town is one of the 500 nonprofits participating in Sacramento’s BIG DoG this year. Donations from the Day will go towards making repairs at the homes of our furry friends. Mary’s Little Lambs and the Three Billy Goats Gruff need new fencing at their estates. Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail need a new rabbit hutch. The Little Red Hen and her chicks need a new chicken coop. The total cost for all these repairs runs about $15,000. We hope that donors on the BIG Day of Giving will help us reach this goal.

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It is easy to participate in BIG Day of Giving. On May 5, simply visit www.bigdayofgiving.org and select the nonprofits you want to support. (We hope we are one of them!) Your gift will stretch even further because all participating nonprofits are given pro-rated incentive dollars so every donation is amplified with a partial match.

In addition to the partial match, participating nonprofits can compete for prize challenges. Fairytale Town is hoping we will win the $5,000 prize for the first donation of the day or the last donation of the day, so we encourage you to stay up late on May 4 to make the first gift at 12:00 AM, or stay awake on May 5 to make the last gift at 11:59 PM. If you miss the winning gift at the midnight hour, your gift could help us win the $2,500 prize for the organization that has the most donations between 12 and 6 AM – especially if you use those productive morning hours to encourage your friends to give then also. No matter when you give, your gift will go to support our barnyard friends.

Fairytale Town is proud to be part of the BIG Day of Giving. In 2014, our community made history by raising more than $3 million for 394 nonprofits from over 12,000 donors – and we were second in the country among those participating in the national Give Local America effort!  We also proved that small gifts truly count! Over 60 percent of donations were between $25 and $50, and close to a third of the donors were new to online giving.

Whether you like big dogs, miniature goats or little lambs, give a gift to the nonprofit(s) you care about on May 5 and make a difference in our community.


I Speak Sheep

sheepIt was almost closing time and I was walking towards my office. I saw a family playing by King Arthur’s Castle. The adults were chatting happily, the children swirling around them. The sheep at the Mary’s Little Lamb exhibit across the walkway began to bleat. They knew they would be fed soon. As I was nearing the sheep, a little girl form the family ran up to them announcing to me, “I speak sheep!” and baah-ing to her animal friends. It was a joy to see the strength and self-confidence she displayed in this spontaneous moment of playful interaction. She transcended the language barriers and became one with the sheep, both of them baah-ing back and forth until they each rushed off – the sheep to eat their dinner, the child to rejoin her family.

These playful interactions, with family, friends… and animals, are the stuff that memories are made on. I was sad that our moment ended so suddenly. I have worked near those sheep for many years, and have always wanted to know what they were saying!

Fairytale Town is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm beginning March 1. We hope you will drop in for a visit. You can find out if you speak sheep; or cow, donkey, pig, goat, rabbit, chicken, or squirrel when you visit. Or you can just play and enjoy the approach of spring. I believe that is what the sheep was saying to that little girl.


We Need Your Help to Improve the Children’s Theater

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The Children’s Theater is one of the original structures at Fairytale Town—dating back to 1959—and it holds fond memories for many guests who experienced their first puppet show, performed on the stage, or attended a FunCamp at Fairytale Town. We need your help to make improvements to the exterior of the building, as well as to stage itself. Dry rot has taken hold on the siding and needs to be replaced and repainted. The stage itself needs to be refinished as well, and if we are able to raise enough money, we may be able to install backs on the bench seating!PuppetShow

Legend has it that the Children’s Theater is the oldest puppet stage west of the Mississippi. Whether or not this is true, it makes for good storytelling – an activity that nearly 10,000 children are introduced to throughout the year. The storytelling presentations in the Children’s Theater include puppet shows, dance recitals, and theater performances.

When Fairytale Town opened in 1959, the Children’s Theater was an outdoor amphitheater. In the 1980s it was enclosed and became one of the few indoor spaces within the park. In 2002, the interior of the Children’s Theater was upgraded to include new lighting and sound systems, sound proofing, and additional seating. In 2012, a fresh coat of paint was added to the exterior, and a new audio-visual system was installed.

We would love to have your support for this project. We expect the renovations to cost $20,000; and more if we include the backing to the benches. Contributions of all sizes are needed to make the project go. Contributions of $2,500 and up will be acknowledged on a bronze plaque, and donors contributing $5,000 and more will receive their own individual plaque on the stage. We plan to begin the work on the project in February so all will be complete when our busy season begins on March 1.

To make a contribution to this beloved park of our storybook park, click here to make a donation online today or please contact Kathy Fleming at (916) 808-7060.


Farmer Brown’s Barn Reopens

The home of Eeyore, Charlotte, and Daisy, the Cow that Jumped Over the Moon, reopened on Saturday, October 11! The renovation of Farmer Brown’s Barn saw a number of improvements to this beloved part of our town, such as the expansion of Eeyore’s stall, new stall doors for both Eeyore and Daisy, repainting the interior and exterior, new exhibit spaces and more.

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Check out our exciting new exhibits during your next visit, including an observation beehive, beekeeping tool display, and a wall of amazing arachnids. An additional space will change with seasonal exhibits. Come springtime, this space will transform into Farmer Brown’s Hatchery.

A big thank you to our major sponsors who made the renovation possible: Sacramento County Supervisor, the Honorable Jimmie Yee, the Spencer Family, the Curry Family, and J. Steven Carrillo. Thanks also go to the Webber-Kozumplik Family for supporting the observation beehive, and to hundreds of additional donors for supporting the project.

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Learning About Play

I was excited to learn about Exploring Play: The Importance of Play in Everyday Life, a free online course offered by FutureLearn and the University of Sheffield. The seven-week course kicked off last week and is off to a roaring start. Learners from all over the world are participating. For the first week we learned about the many definitions of play, and were asked to share our play histories.

SacramentoPlaySummit2There were two common themes about people’s play histories. The first centered on outdoor play. I was amazed at how many people remembered playing outdoors without any supervision by adults. In reflecting on my own play history, I recalled spending a lot of time outside playing with friends and neighbors, and seldom within eyesight of any of our parents. By contrast, my children spent very little time outdoors in self-directed activities. While they spent a lot of time outside, it was usually in a supervised sporting activity. It is surprising how much things have changed in just one generation.

The other theme was that the play people gravitated toward in childhood often carried over into their adult careers. I participated in a lot of imaginative play and acted out stories as a child, and began my professional career by working in theater. Some who played with cars as children became mechanics; others who liked to play school with their stuffed animals became teachers. It was a little surprising to realize how much my play as a child links to my life as an adult.

Play can be difficult to define, but it is something that crosses cultures, contexts and lifespans. What do you remember about your play history, and how has it impacted your life as an adult?


Meet Barney Saltzberg at the ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival

BarneyBarney Saltzberg is the author and illustrator of close to 50 books for children, including Beautiful Oops!, Arlo Needs Glasses, Andrew Drew and Drew, and the bestselling Touch and Feel Kisses series with over 800,000 copies in print. Additionally, he’s recorded four CDs of music for children. Barney has been working with the United States State Department as a part of the Cultural Exchange Program and has traveled to China and Russia to speak about the creative process. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three dogs.

Meet Barney at Fairytale Town the weekend of September 27 & 28 at the ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival! Barney will read Beautiful Oops! and his latest book, Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep, and sign copies of his books.

Beautiful Oops! is an inspiring read about creativity and how “oops” BeautifulOops_lowres2can transform into something wonderful. Where do you find inspiration for your books?
I travel around the world speaking about the creative process. In my PowerPoint, I show two images which were created from mistakes. Paw prints on a painting turned to clouds and a coffee stain turned into a monster. Educators kept asking if I could teach how I do that. I tore a piece of paper one day in my studio and it looked like the mouth of an alligator. I knew at that moment that a book was born!

Tell us about your latest book, Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep?Chengdu_Jacket_lowres
The US State department has sent me to Russia and China to speak about creativity. When we were in China, my wife took a 24-hour trip to the city of Chengdu, where the pandas are. She took photographs of a panda in a tree who was having trouble falling asleep. Based on her photos, I made a picture book.

Do you have any tips for parents wanting to encourage their children to unleash their imaginations?
Down time. Down time from any screen. Down time from soccer, ballet, etc. Buy a sketchbook and
have some art supplies. I would not critique your child’s work. Do not ‘show’ them how to draw
anything. Children need to play and use their imagination and often times, we, as parents get too
involved. That telegraphs to a child that they are either doing something incorrectly or that their work somehow doesn’t meet their parents approval. This is a definite imagination shutoff. Another way to jump-start creativity is to play with your children. Pretend play is a great way to activate that creative muscle. Another idea is to make a squiggle on a sheet of paper and let your child flip it around until they see something they want to draw, using the squiggle as a starting point. There are no ‘wrong’ answers here. Everything you draw is perfect. VERY liberating. Hopefully, that ability to improvise and use one’s imagination is a starting point for more to come.

If you could be any fairytale character, who would you be? Why?
I have never thought about this before. It’s not really a fairytale, but the classic story of The Little Engine That Could would be my inspiration, so I would have to say I’m the little engine. Two reasons. I’m not that big and I never give up. I think I can, I think I can, seems to be my motto!

Thanks Barney!


Remembering a Playful Friend

Fairytale Town is located across the street from the Sacramento Zoo. Their Executive Director, Mary Healy, began working there about six months before I began at Fairytale Town. Over the years we got to know each other and learned we shared many things besides a similar start date and a street. We’re both baby boomers who were raised in middle class Irish Catholic families. We both recently lost parents. We both loved travel. And we both loved cheese and wine. We once even attended Cheese School.Glasses 1

You can imagine our excitement when we learned there was a Cheese Festival coming to Sacramento. Mary found out we could get in free to the cheese-tasting gala if we volunteered. (Yes, we’re both frugal and resourceful too.) We had a great time at the Festival tasting cheeses from all over the United States. I shared stories about my recent vacation to Europe. She told me about her upcoming vacation to the Galapagos Islands, a trip she was very much looking forward to. We received commemorative glasses as part of the gala. I mentioned in passing that we were running short on wine glasses and Mary gave me hers. It was a simple and generous gesture that was typical of Mary.

I was shocked and saddened to receive a phone call just a week later telling me that Mary had passed away while on vacation. As I reflected back on the time we spent together, I realized that what we shared most of all was a sense of play. As we get older it can become harder to find partners in play. I am so lucky I found one right across the street. I will forever treasure the playful times I spent with my friend and colleague Mary Healy.