Blog

Ms. Sammi’s Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ready to learn how to make hot chocolate? Click the link below to get the recipe for Ms. Sammi’s hot chocolate. This yummy drink is perfect for cool days at home. We hope you and your family enjoy! If you want to show us the hot chocolates you made post a picture on your social media and use the hashtag #fairytaletowncrafts.

Hot Chocolate Recipe

To see todays videos visit our Facebook or Instagram.

If you’d like to support Fairytale Town at this time visit our donation page!


Mr. McGregor’s Garden Coloring Page

We hope you enjoyed learning all about Peter Rabbit and Mopsy today! Below is a coloring page of Mr. McGregor’s Garden for you and your little ones to enjoy! Want to show us your beautiful artwork? Post a picture of your masterpiece on your social media pages and use the hashtag #fairytaletowncrafts!

Mr. McGregor’s Garden Coloring Page

To see todays videos visit our Facebook or Instagram.

If you’d like to support Fairytale Town at this time visit our donation page!


Fairytale Town Goats and Pigs Coloring Page

We hope you enjoy listening to the story “Once Upon a Goat” and learning all about our 3 Little Pigs today! Below is a coloring page with Fairytale Town’s goats and pigs on them for you and your little ones to enjoy! Want to show us your beautiful artwork? Post a picture of your masterpiece on your social media pages and use the hashtag #fairytaletowncrafts!

Goats and Pigs Coloring Page

To see todays videos visit our Facebook or Instagram.

If you’d like to support Fairytale Town at this time visit our donation page!


St. Patrick’s Day Craft

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from our family to yours! Although we are closed through March 31 we want to bring the fun of Fairytale Town to your home! Below are two craft activities for you to do with your little ones. Plus you can visit our Facebook or Instagram for story time! Today we are reading The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever!

St. Patrick’s Day Coloring Page

St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Template


Fairytale Town is Temporarily Closed

Guided by government and health authority recommendations on public safety during the coronavirus crisis, as a precautionary measure Fairytale Town will be closed until the COVID-19 risk to public safety has passed.

Meantime, kids can enjoy daily story time videos and activities from Fairytale Town on Instagram and Facebook. Check them out!

We look forward to opening the Humpty gate again for children and families — and inspiring the imagination, creativity, and education of our region’s kids at Fairytale Town.

If you have questions, please email us at mail@fairytaletown.org.

Thank you for your support.

Want to bring the fun of Fairytale Town to your home? Follow our social media pages for storytimes, animal introductions, and crafts!

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Instagram


Fairytale Town Appoints New Executive Director

New Executive Director to begin January 2020

Fairytale Town’s board of directors has appointed nonprofit executive Kevin Smith-Fagan as the organization’s next executive director. He will oversee the administration, fund development, community and organizational leadership, programming, maintenance and strategic planning of the storybook park as well as the offsite Sacramento Adventure Playground program. Smith-Fagan will assume the role in early January 2020.

“We are very excited to welcome Kevin Smith-Fagan as Fairytale Town’s next executive director,” said Matt DeFazio, president elect of Fairytale Town’s board of directors. “Kevin is a dynamic leader whose deep experience in nonprofit management and roots in the Sacramento community will help lead Fairytale Town in its next phase of growth.”

Smith-Fagan has served as the associate general manager for external affairs at PBS KVIE since 2014. Previously, he was the vice president for development and director of leadership giving at PBS KVIE. He is president elect of the Rotary Club of Sacramento and has served on numerous community boards, including Women’s Empowerment, YMCA of Superior California and more. He is a graduate of Boston University.

“I’m delighted to be joining the dedicated staff and board as Fairytale Town’s next executive director,” said Smith-Fagan. “As one of Sacramento’s premier cultural assets, Fairytale Town has a rich history in the community. I’m energized by the mission to promote the imagination, creativity and education of children and excited about the expansion plans to grow Fairytale Town’s impact for the next generation of children.”

Smith-Fagan will work with outgoing executive director, Kathy Fleming, to ensure a smooth transition of leadership for the 60-year-old institution. Through much of 2020, Fleming will serve as director emeritus on a part-time basis and focus on Fairytale Town’s capital campaign to support the park’s half-acre expansion as well as program development for the Story Center, one of the features of the expansion.

Located in William Land Park in Sacramento, Calif., Fairytale Town opened to the public on August 29, 1959, when it was dedicated as a gift to the children of the Central Valley by the City of Sacramento, the Junior League of Sacramento and other community and business leaders. Fairytale Town remains the only literacy-based park that serves children in this region. Fairytale Town serves 250,000 guests annually from all over the state, nation and globe.

We’re delighted to welcome Kevin to the Fairytale Town family! Learn more about Kevin from our recent interview.

Why did you want to be the Executive Director of Fairytale Town? 

The early literacy element of Fairytale Town addresses a significant community need, and that holds a lot of appeal for me. Tens of thousands of children visit each year, so working here means making a positive impact on huge numbers of kids across the region. And of course, Fairytale Town has a heartwarming spirit that makes me smile!

What excites you about Fairytale Town’s mission and the future of the organization? 

There’s something really beautiful about this wholesome place that cherishes children, fosters imagination, and where kids are treated as children rather than as consumers. The new Story Center coming through the planned park expansion will be a really big deal in strengthening the reading achievement for generations of Sacramento kids, so raising the money to build the Story Center is a top priority.

What is your favorite Fairytale Town memory? 

When my family relocated in 2003 from Philadelphia, it was a big change for our small boys, and they missed home. One of the first things we did was visit Fairytale Town, and of course they loved it. And I remember telling them, “See? Sacramento is going to be great!” My kids have fond memories of visiting Fairytale Town.

What is your favorite fairytale or children’s book? 

As a kid, Stone Soup was my favorite; I loved how the penniless traveler found a clever way to appeal to the surly villagers’ better instincts and they all end up joining together. As a dad of three, we wore out a couple copies of Where the Wild Things Are.


Executive Director Kathy Fleming to Step Down

Fleming will transition to director emeritus position in 2020 to focus on capital campaign and special projects

New search underway for park’s next leader

Fairytale Town’s executive director, Kathy Fleming, will step down at the end of 2019 and transition to a director emeritus position in 2020. She has been the executive director of Sacramento’s storybook park since 2000. The Board of Directors has launched a search for the next executive director.

As director emeritus, Fleming will work with the incoming executive director to ensure a smooth transition of leadership for the nearly 60-year-old institution. Her time will then be focused on Fairytale Town’s capital campaign to support the park’s half-acre expansion as well as program development for the Story Center, one of the features of the expansion. Fleming will serve as director emeritus from January through December 2020.

“The park’s success is Kathy’s success, and her support during this critical phase of our growth exemplifies her dedication to Fairytale Town and it’s expansion. It is the Board’s intention to honor her legacy during this transition period,” said Linda Alger, president of Fairytale Town’s board of directors. “We are extremely grateful to Kathy for her leadership of Fairytale Town for the last 19 years. Thanks to her vision and commitment, Fairytale Town is a thriving community asset that welcomes more children and families than ever before into this magical oasis. The next leader will come on board during an exciting time for the organization and our community.”

“Serving as director of Fairytale Town has been a great joy and the highlight of my professional career. I want to thank the board, staff and volunteers who work hard every day to make Fairytale Town the magical place it is,” said Fleming.  “As I transition to director emeritus, I’ll turn over the day-to-day operations and focus on projects that will advance the organization and promote the importance of play for the healthy development of children, families and communities.”

During her tenure, Fleming has transformed the landmark facility from a small children’s park to one of the top five attractions in the region. She has led the organization through dramatic growth with involvement from 16 board members, 30 staff members, more than 600 volunteers, and many community partners.

Some of Fleming’s achievements include:  

  • increasing annual attendance from 160,000 to 250,000 guests;
  • growing the operating budget from $650,000 to $2 million;
  • building strong partnerships with the City of Sacramento, Sacramento Public Library, and other community organizations;
  • creating new signature programs, including the annual Children’s Book Festival and Winter Wonderland;
  • improving the nearly 60-year-old facility with numerous capital projects, including the Mother Goose Stage, Sherwood Forest, and the Yellow Brick Road, as well as infrastructure projects such as walkways and fencing;
  • opening the first playset based on a story from the African continent, Anansi’s Web;
  • and, establishing outreach programs, such as the Sacramento Adventure Playground, a free after-school youth development program for ages 6 to 15.

Located in William Land Park in Sacramento, Calif., Fairytale Town opened to the public on August 29, 1959, when it was dedicated as a gift to the children of the Central Valley by the City of Sacramento, the Junior League of Sacramento and other community and business leaders. Fairytale Town remains the only literacy-based park that serves children in this region. The park received the Business Hall of Fame award at the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Annual Dinner in February 2019 and the Regional Treasure award from the California Parks and Recreation Society’s Hall of Honor in March 2019.


Meet the Voice of Fairytale Town

In celebration of 60 years of Fairytale Town, we’re bringing you stories and profiles from throughout our history.

After her daughters were born, Francie Dillon realized a conventional office job was not her calling, and instead decided to pursue a career in educating children through music and storytelling. During her journey, she found herself with the opportunity to help Fairytale Town create songs and stories for our Magic Storyboxes. With Francie’s story telling voice and lively children’s music being heard around the whole park for everyone to enjoy, she earned herself the title of “The Voice of Fairytale Town”.

What sparked your interest in writing music and performing for children?

The interest to write music and perform for young children was born from a beautiful cluster of circumstances that now seem magical and at the same time, almost comical.  I could not have seen this career path coming, and yet, I can’t imagine what life would have been without it.

At the time of my first daughter’s birth, I had been working with a Los Angeles based advertisement agency.  I remember telling Kenzie when she was less than 24hours old, “Dad’s not going to like this, but I can’t go back to that job!” At that moment my world changed. Somehow, I was going to find a way to be the mom I needed to be and still earn an income.

Almost two years after the birth of my second daughter, Lindsey, I started my business Jazzbabies, teaching music appreciation in preschool settings. With a background in music and marketing, I started writing little kid’s songs that I thought would be fun to record. Also, around that time, one of my Jazzbabies parents asked what I would charge to perform at the Arden Fair Kids Club. I had no idea those kinds of jobs were out there, so the best answer I could muster up at the time was, “It depends on the details of the job.” Shortly after that, I started performing as a street artist at the Downtown Thursday Night Market. The combination of all these elements led to me to create The Toy Box CD, with my award-winning musician/producer brother, Christopher Hedge. That CD, along with performances at Fairytale Town and the many other moments of opportunities that presented themselves, launched my career as a children’s performing artist.

How did you first get involved at Fairytale Town? Tell us about your experience. 

I was first involved with Fairytale Town as a parent with two very young children.  It was the place to go and breathe while our kids could safely explore and play! But as an entertainer, I’ll never forget my first time performing in the Children’s Theater. I don’t recall who extended the invitation, but I remember having a 30-minute set to sing some songs and tell a few stories. I had no real direct experience with this kind of performance, but I was excited!

Thinking back on that first performance, I remember blowing through the songs and stories in 15 minutes. I was so nervous!  The audience was so sweet, the applause kind, and all I knew when I left was that I wanted to do more of that!  And since that first performance, I have been able to build a performance career that landed me the professional title I’m most proud of, “The Voice of Fairytale Town.”

What is your favorite Fairytale Town Memory?

My most favorite memory of Fairytale Town was being able to spend an evening with my daughters in the park after hours as I tried to find a voice for each of the playsets. I was given the task of writing all the songs and stories for the Magic Storyboxes, and I wanted to make sure that I captured the essence of each of the many characters. As I sat in front of Mother Goose, asking what she might want to say to the thousands of children that would be sliding down her apron, all I could hear were the girls screaming and laughing as they blasted through the park. The freedom to be in the park with the girls after hours was terrific, and I found myself filled with every kind of emotion. Creating the stories and songs for the many playsets that would challenge the imagination of thousands of children and create memories for so many families was a privilege and honor. That evening, the girls and I measured the Crooked Mile, crawled through the Cheese, slew dragons in Sherwood Forest, and— little by little— found a voice for the playsets.


Meet the Puppeteer

In celebration of 60 years of Fairytale Town, we’re bringing you stories and profiles from throughout our history.

Art Grueneberger’s face may not be familiar to Fairytale Town families, but his voice may be. Art has been one of the puppeteers behind the shows in the Children’s Theater for the last 23 years. Since 1996, Art’s company, Puppet Art Theater Co., has been making children—and their parents—
giggle with his puppet shows that present classic tales with a wacky spin. In addition to producing and performing puppet shows for children, he has directed productions for adults that have been seen staged in New York City and San Francisco. In 2007, Art directed an acclaimed production of Man of La Mancha featuring life-sized puppets at UC Davis.

What sparked your interest in puppetry?

My first puppets were children’s toys that I received when I was five years old—a Cookie Monster and Ernie and Bert moving mouth puppets. I loved the puppet characters on Sesame Street and playing with those kid-sized puppets provided hours and hours of enjoyment. Just as I was growing out of Sesame Street, The Muppet Show began airing. The corny writing of Jerry Juhl, combined with some of the best television puppeteers, were right up my ten-year-old sense of humor. I performed countless puppet shows for my mom from behind the couch with my increasing collection of hand puppets.

Fast-forward to my last year of college when I decided to take a Puppetry Class thinking that it would be an easy “A”. Little did I know that the class would change the trajectory of my life. The class was taught by master puppeteer Richard Bay, an incredible puppet builder, performer, and director. Richard recognized my passion for performing and cast me in a show called A Thousand Cranes, a large-scale theater production. Performing a serious and beautiful piece of theater with puppets showed me the possibilities of puppetry beyond the silliness of The Muppets. I was hooked! Richard eventually hired me as a performer for his company, and my first professional performance of a puppet show for kids was at the Nut Tree in Vacaville the summer of 1993.

When did you start performing puppet shows at Fairytale Town? Tell us about your experience.

I went on to direct several productions for Richard Bay’s company and continued to write and tour in educational shows for Richard. After performing one of those shows at Fairytale Town, the director of the park, Annie Desalernos, asked me about building a show for the Safe and Super Halloween event in 1996. I took the challenge! My first children’s production was Frankenswine, which is loosely based on Frankenstein, only with pigs. The show was greatly influenced by the wackiness of The Muppets and the classic bits I learned while working with Richard. That was the beginning of my company, Puppet Art Theater Co. After the success of Frankenswine, I was asked to build a series of four shows for Fairytale Town’s 1997 Summer season. And we haven’t missed a year at Fairytale Town since!

What is your favorite Fairytale Town Memory?

I was premiering Tommy’s Space Adventure at Fairytale Town (probably 1997 or 1998), and in a moment when all of the special effects in the show were in play, a five-year-old boy stood up on the bench and exclaimed, “What a show!” I was filled with joy because that was exactly the response I was wanting.

See a Puppet Show at Fairytale Town!

Puppet shows are offered May through August. Check out the show schedule!


Meet Steve Antony

Five years ago, Steve Antony pursued his dream job as a children’s book author and illustrator. Since then, he’s written and illustrated 16 picture books, including his 2014 award-winning debut The Queen’s Hat, the bestselling Mr. Panda series, and Unplugged. He illustrated Tim Minchin’s When I Grow Up from his hit musical Matilda and illustrated a cover of The Famous Five, Enid Blyton’s popular series. Steve lives in Swindon, England, and is Patron to Swindon Libraries Children’s Services. Steve will read selections from the Mr. Panda series and sign books at Fairytale Town on September 29 and 30 as part of the ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival.

What was your inspiration for Mr. Panda?

The first story, Please, Mr. Panda, came to me in a most peculiar way. One lazy Sunday afternoon I was doodling pandas in bed when I heard a voice inside my head. “Would you like a doughnut?” asked the voice. I imagined this to be the voice of the deadpan Mr. Panda who was staring right at me from my sketchbook. “Give me the pink one,” replied a tiny, squeaky voice, which I imagined to be that of a cute little penguin. “No, you cannot have a doughnut. I have changed my mind,” huffed Mr. Panda. This made me chuckle. But why did Mr. Panda change his mind? I continued to imagine him interacting with other animals in a similar fashion. Then it dawned on me: none of the animals said please! That’s when I knew I had a good story. Mr. Panda wanted to teach me, and the world, a lesson or two in manners.

Mr. Panda is now the star of four picture books and two board books. When you were writing and illustrating the first book, Please Mr. Panda, did you ever imagine that Mr. Panda’s adventures would expand into a series?

No, I never imagined in a million years that Mr. Panda would star in his very own series of books!  I wrote Please, Mr. Panda a year after being made redundant from a call center. In fact, if I hadn’t been made redundant the Please, Mr. Panda probably wouldn’t exist. The book wasn’t even called Please, Mr. Panda to begin with. It was called Would You Like a Doughnut?

The response to the first Mr. Panda book took me by complete surprise, and I just knew Mr. Panda had more stories to tell. I also love adding more black and white animals to Mr. Panda’s expanding circle of friends. I pick only black and white animals for Mr. Panda’s world because I’m red-green color-blind, and at the start of my career I steered clear of using too much color. Now I’m more confident with using color. For example, my illustrations for Tim Minchin’s When I Grow Up are super colorful.

I’ve actually just finished the 5th Mr. Panda picture book. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of Mr. Panda because he’s such a funny character to develop. He’s grumpy-looking yet really generous. He’s big and gruff yet wears pink frilly aprons. He isn’t perfect, yet he tries his best to teach manners in his own unique (and somewhat unorthodox) way. Plus, he has the best fans. Every now and then I check the hashtag #PleaseMrPanda to see what people are posting on Instagram. One school painted a gigantic Mr. Panda in their class and took turns taking selfies next to it. Another transformed their class into Mr. Panda’s doughnut factory. I often get tagged in Mr. Panda related tweets, too.

Tell us about your role as patron of Swindon Libraries Children’s Services. What do you like best about that role?

Since my first book, The Queen’s Hat, was published, I have developed great friendships with my local librarians. I regularly hold free events in libraries across the Borough of Swindon and meet with librarians to creatively brainstorm new and imaginative ways to inspire children, families, and schools to visit their local branch. It’s a lot of fun. Lots of people can’t afford books. Schools often can’t afford new books, which is why I think the best thing about my role is that I’ve been given this amazing opportunity to share the joy of reading to children who, if not for libraries, would not have access to books. Books are so much more than just ink on paper. They are doorways into amazing worlds where just about anything is possible. This is something I always tell school pupils. You should see their faces when I tell them they hold the key to each and every door.

What was your favorite book to read as a child?

There were so many. I loved poring over picture book illustrations and finding all the hidden details. I particularly enjoyed books by Richard Scarry, but the books I borrowed most from the library were actually the Draw 50 books by Lee J. Ames and Ed Emberley’s “How to Draw” books. To be honest, I actually struggled with reading non-picture books, but I found that comics and graphic novels helped bridge the gap.

Doughnuts are a recurring theme and visual in the Mr. Panda series. Do you like doughnuts, and what’s your favorite?  

Unlike Mr. Panda, I do like doughnuts. My favorite is salted caramel. I am cutting down because I’ve probably eaten far too many since the publication of Please, Mr. Panda, although I did eat one yesterday.