Posts Categorized: Around Town

Meet Sherri Duskey Rinker

Sherri Duskey Rinker saw her first picture book, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, rise from the infamous “slush pile” to the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list, where it has stayed for more than 100 weeks. She’s inspired by her two energetic, inquisitive sons, one fascinated by bugs and magic, and the other by trucks and trains. Formerly the owner of a graphic design agency, she now devotes herself full time to writing books and visiting schools. She lives with her family in Chicago, Illinois.

Sherri will visit Fairytale Town for this year’s ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival the weekend of September 28 and 29, where she’ll present her latest #1 bestseller, Steam Train, Dream Train, and sign copies of her books.

Both of your books are “goodnight” stories. When you started working on your books, did you set out to write bedtime stories?
My fondest memories of reading as a child were at bedtime, cuddled up with my grandmother. When I became a mom, bedtime was the time for settling in and cuddling up with my own kids and reading, so I think that writing books specifically for that time was a pretty natural fit for me. And, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site was inspired specifically because my youngest son had a tireless (literally!) love of trucks, and I felt the need to give him a bedtime story that spoke to his truck passions and, yet, was soothing.

What was your favorite book to read as a child?
The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton. I still love that story and, interestingly, I feel like it’s evolved into an analogy for my own life: I was always lured by excitement and city life as I was growing up and as a young adult, and now I’m content to enjoy the peaceful pace of a quieter life—and I’m more appreciative of the simpler things.

What’s your earliest reading memory?
My grandmother had a big stack of books by the bed at her house, and I’d pick which one(s) we’d read together. I sentimentally still remember the smell of those books, the smell and feel of the soft sheets and blankets, the smell of my grandmother’s Camay soap, the cozy feeling of being cuddled up and having all of her attention, the sound of the ticking alarm clock in the background and titles like Be Nice To Spiders and Harry The Dirty Dog.

As a mother of two, do you have any words of wisdom for fellow parents who want to inspire and encourage their children to read?
Read to your kids—and read everything: picture books when they are smaller, chapter books as they grow older. Grab a cup of coffee at night after dinner so that you’re awake and present to enjoy this really special time with them.

If you could be any fairytale character, who would you be? Why?
This is such an interesting question. I guess I’ll say this: Anyone who gets to live “happily ever after!” That’s a copout, right? Ok, if you make me pick, I guess I’ll have to go with Cinderella: I really like shoes!

New Little Engine That Could Play Set

A new train inspired by the classic children’s book The Little Engine That Could opened at Fairytale Town on August 15, 2013!

Comprised of an engine car, train car and caboose, the new train replicates the little train that saved the day with its plucky attitude and positive thinking. It was designed and fabricated by local artist Shane Grammer. The train sits alongside the little red engine that currently represents the classic story. Playground surfacing surrounds the base of the play structure to make for soft landings during play time on the structure.

The new train was made possible in part by generous gift from the Ken Stieger family, William A. Brown, Jr., Raley’s Family of Fine Foods, Otto Construction, and Lionakis, as well as a portion of the proceeds from Fairytale Town’s Yellow Brick Road fundraising project.

Watch a time lapse video of the train being built!

Set Your Sails for Fun in July

International CelebrationEvery weekend in July is packed with fun family events, all free with paid park admission! Fill your July with dance, art, play, theater, fort-building and more.

International Celebration
Enjoy a day of international dance and music performances on the outdoor Mother Goose Stage on July 6.


fort building month 1July is Fort Building Month
We’re celebrating the time-honored tradition of creating child-sized hideaways out of cardboard, string, tape and other found materials. Bring your imagination, and join in the adventure! Fort Building Month takes place Saturdays and Sundays  in July at 11 AM (starting Sunday, July 7).

Very Special Arts Day
Performances, visual art shows and art “funshops” will be featured at this annual event for children of all abilities on July 13. Presented by I Can Do That!

Children’s Play Day
Celebrate the importance of childhood play with a fun day of games, hands-on activities, arts and crafts and more on July 20.

Trouper Show: Jack and the Meanstalk
The Fairytale Town Troupers, our children’s theater program, presents a clever retelling of the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. Performances take place on the Mother Goose Stage on July 20, 21, 27 & 28.


We Need Your Help to Build a New Train

Photo by Dina Heidrich

We think we can, we think we can, we think we can! We think we can build a new train to add to our Little Engine That Could play set. The new train will replicate the little blue engine that saved the day with its plucky attitude and positive thinking, and will be placed alongside of the little red engine that currently represents the classic story.

Nearly 240,000 people visit Fairytale Town each year. The Little Engine That Could play set is a popular attraction — especially for young engineers! With an additional train, more children will be able to play and explore their imaginations.

The new train has been designed by local artist Shane Grammer and will be fabricated in his studio before being installed at Fairytale Town. It features the little blue engine, as well as two train cars. The total cost of the project is $50,000. With a generous initial gift from the Ken Stieger family, and a portion of funding from the proceeds of the Yellow Brick Road, we are ready to embark on building it. However, we need help from our community to close the gap and make the vision of a new train a reality. If you think you can help, we would love your involvement!

Contributions of all levels are needed to install the new engine. All contributors will bring smiles to the faces of hundreds of thousands of children who will play on the train. Contributors at the $2,500 level and above will receive a variety of other benefits, including permanent acknowledgement on the play set itself!

We hope you will consider a tax-deductible contribution to support our new effort to bring the classic story of The Little Engine That Could to life. The central message of the story—that a seemingly impossible task can be accomplished with a positive attitude and hard work—deserves to live on in the minds and imaginations of children in our region.

To make a contribution to this treasured play set, click here to make a donation online today or please contact Kathy Fleming at (916) 808-7060.

Meet Ginger Elizabeth Hahn

We are fortunate to have acclaimed chocolatier Ginger Elizabeth Hahn of Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates serving as the Honorary Chair for the Mad Hatter Meets Mad Men fundraiser on Thursday, May 16. Ginger is a formally trained chocolatier and pastry chef who has been studying and working professionally with chocolate for over 10 years. She studied pastry at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where she graduated top of her class. In 2008, Ginger and her husband Tom launched their retail store in Midtown Sacramento. In 2010, Ginger was named one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America by Dessert Professional Magazine.

Before the fundraiser this Thursday, we wanted to introduce Ginger and ask her about a few of her favorite things and the special cocktail she created just for the event.

What’s your favorite: Alice in Wonderland, Mad Men, or both? Why?
Mad Men, because it is the only show I watch on cable and I love the characters and the costumes.

If you could be any character from Alice in Wonderland or Mad Men, who would you be? Why?
The white queen in the Alice and Wonderland book because she is crazy, and I feel a little crazy sometimes with the business and my two young sons.

Have you been to Fairytale Town? If so, what is your favorite feature?
Not yet, but my kids are dying to go see the animals.

What will you be showcasing at the Mad Hatter Meets Mad Men event on May 16?
A chilled drink with a little chocolate, a little tea and a little booze! It’s an Earl Grey Chocolate Chambord cocktail.

Thank you Ginger!


New Play Structure for Sherwood Forest

Robin Hood, his Merry Men and Maid Marian reopened their forest haven with a new play structure on February 16, 2013!

sherwood_forestWith earth-tone colors and forest-themed elements, the structure was custom-designed to echo the entire Sherwood Forest play set. The structure features slides, crawl tubes, a talk tube, telescope and multiple climbing apparatuses, including steps shaped as tree trunks and bedrock, an inclined log and a vertical rock climbing wall. Wood chips surrounding the base of the play structure will make for soft landings during play time on the structure.

In addition, other parts of Sherwood Forest were spruced up while under construction. Our Grounds crew was hard at work installing an irrigation system, planting new shrubs, refinishing the dining area and more.

Meet the King and Queen of the Fairies

This year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Crystal Ice Cream Fantasy will be presided over by an Honorary King and Queen, who will kick off the event and then greet guests in a magical fairy bower. We are fortunate to have John Frisch and Monica Woods serve as the event’s Honorary King and Queen. John and Monica will take on the roles of Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies in Shakespeare’s play.

Before the event on June 9, we wanted to introduce John and Monica. We spoke with them recently to find out more about their history with Fairytale Town as well as a few of their favorite things.

John Frisch
Honorary King

John Frisch is the regional managing director of the Sacramento and Roseville offices of Cornish and Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank. John has been active in many community organizations. Currently he serves as the chair of the board of directors for the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Tell us about your history and experience with Fairytale Town. I joined the Fairytale Town board in 1980.  It was the first real community board that I ever served on, and I not only learned a great deal about Fairytale Town but about the City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department, which ran and maintained the park back in those days.  We eventually became one of the first public parks to “privatize,” and in many ways became the City and County’s model for future public-private partnerships. I eventually retired from the board around 1996.  It was one of the best boards that I ever served on!

What is your favorite feature of the park?  The Three Little Pigs!

What are you most looking forward to at A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Crystal Ice Cream Fantasy?  Just seeing the magical joy on the faces that all kids and adults get when they visit Fairytale Town.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  Rocky Road!

What is your favorite Shakespeare play?  Romeo and Juliet.

If you could be any fairytale character, who would you be?  Peter Pan!

Monica Woods
Honorary Queen

Monica Woods is KXTV News 10’s chief meteorologist. She is actively involved in the Sacramento community. Monica served a term as president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Sacramento and sat on the organization’s Board of Directors for three years.

Tell us about your history and experience with Fairytale Town. We were regular weekly visitors while the kids were not in school. We visit less frequently now, but every time we do the kids want to make sure to visit everything!

What is your favorite feature? King Arthur’s Castle. I love to imagine what it might have been like to be a part of that time.

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

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  Mint Chip!

What is your favorite Shakespeare play? Romeo & Juliet.

If you could be any fairytale character, who would you be? Cinderella.

Thanks John and Monica for being our King and Queen!