By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH - Do mischievous and magical pixies, sprites and fairies flit around McKee Botanical Garden daily? No one knows, but on April 14, both children and those charmed creatures will be celebrated together.
On April 14 the garden will celebrate the second annual Fairy Festival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and children's crafts and activities will rule the event.
Participants are encouraged to dress in their best fairy finery, boys are welcomed to come as pirates if they desire, and children up to 12 will be invited to be in a parade and costume contest onsite.
The activities are included in the price of admission to the garden.
Hands-on crafts will allow the children to explore nature and use their active imaginations to build tiny homes for the fanciful garden fairies, directors said.
"The Gnome Depot will give the kids an opportunity to build these fairy houses out of all natural materials," said Kelly Susino, marketing director for the garden.
Leaves, pinecones, grasses, rocks, moss, sticks and other constructive objects will be the pieces the children can use to build their miniature abodes. Examples made by garden volunteers will be on display in the Hall of Giants, Ms. Susino said.
"The enthusiasm and creativity that was demonstrated by the 800- plus visitors who attended last year's Fairy Festival was astounding," said Christine Hobart, executive director for the garden, in a press release.
"We hope this year's event will inspire even more families to explore their imaginations and immerse themselves in the spirit of the festival," she said.
Ms. Susino said she expects as much as a 50 percent increase in attendance for this festival.
"We were trying to target the children and have a more family friendly event. A goal we have is to change the perception of what the garden is - it's so much more than a garden," Ms. Susino said.
Other fairy-themed craft opportunities and activities will be offered during the event, including build-your-own fairy wands, with a foam sword counterpart for boys.
Children can enjoy dancing around a maypole, wishing for their most impossible dreams at the wishing bush, getting fairy manicures, face painting and more, Ms. Susino said.
A variety of accessories for child-sized fairies will be available for purchase at the Pixie Boutique onsite.
Two activities will take place indoors, a puppet show at 11:30 a.m. and a ballet performance by the Vero Beach Classical Ballet at 1:30 p.m.
While the Fairy Festival is occurring, the large-scale sculpture exhibit, "Sculpting Nature" will also be on display in the garden, adding another level of whimsical fun to the event.
Admission to the garden is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Admission is free for garden members and children younger than 3.
For more information, call (772) 794-0601 or visit www.mckeegarden.org.