The third annual Fairy House Festival: A fairytale fit for all

By Jess Gaul

A stone path leads to a small cottage dusted in purple, near a quiet pond at River Park North in Greenville, North Carolina.

Little girls and boys wearing sparkly fairy wings gathered sticks and leaves in a wooded area speckled with sunlight.

As visitors of the park hiked, fished and kayaked, several dozen children made preparations for the magical visitors—no smartphones, iPads or any other screens in sight.

At the third annual Fairy House Festival on Saturday, Feb. 24,—which had originally been scheduled to include a campfire and hot chocolate—the weather was so warm that most children wore short sleeves and shorts.

“We definitely took advantage of the time of year,” said park attendant Caethe Vance.

Real-life fairies

Sitting on round stumps, children listened to park attendant Andrew Wimsatt read “Fairy Houses” by Tracy Kane.

Just as the main character of the book sees a beautiful monarch butterfly in the forest, a toddler, wearing monarch fairy wings, tumbled forward.

The other kids were not distracted. They were captivated—by the story, by the sunlight and by the possibility that fairies might move into the homes built for them.

Child architects

At a drawing station, a blonde girl and her mother made textured designs on construction paper using rocks and crayons.

“It’s kind of just a cute way of getting kids into nature as we move into these warmer months of the year,” said Wimsatt. “It’s like the awakening of the park for spring.”

Each fairy house was uniquely designed, from towering teepee structures to tiny bungalows. Most houses leaned against trees as an effort to shelter their winged inhabitants.

5-year-old Beni Florero pieced together his fairy house of sticks and shells all on his own. Despite his accomplishment, his shyness prevented him from posing for a photo.

“I saw the posting on Facebook, and we’re always looking for stuff to do in Greenville,” Melissa Bump, Beni’s mother, said. “It sounded fun and the weather’s been good.”

The impact of the outdoors

Vance, one of the organizers of the event, said that getting kids to do things like creating fairy houses will help to continue the positive trend of a growing interest in outdoor activities.

“We want tomorrow’s children to get outside today, so they can encourage everyone around them,” said Vance.

Vance said that unsupervised nature play allows kids to get in touch with natural elements on their own.

Detail is everything

Parents made suggestions about which stick to use, how tall the house should be or if leaves will make a nice decoration.

7-year-old Raye Wade sprinkled her fairy house creation with green chalk as a finishing touch. Her mother and grandmother help her add pine cones for a fireplace and trees.

“It’s always fun to get out and do something outside—and it’s a beautiful day,” Raye’s mother, Liz Wade, said. “Fairy houses seemed like a really fun idea for her. She’s very creative so I think she’d like something like this.”

Does the colorful chalk dust attract potential fairy tenants?

“I don’t know,” replied the 7-year-old.

“She’s very practical,” Liz said with a laugh.

Wimsatt said learning how plants and animals interact in nature is valuable, and that not all learning can take place indoors.

“I think it’s important for kids to enjoy (nature) versus always just sitting in front of a computer, because not everything is going to be found there,” Wimsatt said. “You have to experience things.”

Park attendant Wimsatt confirmed the presence of magic at the park.

“Of course I believe in fairies!” he said.

Rumor has it that fairies moved into the houses during sunset on Saturday evening.

Edited by Liz Chen

Apps and attitudes illustrate the changing face of college companionship

By: Cailyn Derickson

At 3 a.m., Chapel Hill’s Homegrown Halloween festivities were dying down. The only two places open on Franklin were [B]Ski’s and Sup Dogs, and senior Rachael Scott and her friends were starving. They chose [B]Ski’s.

One of Scott’s friends had just broken up with her boyfriend, so the night was supposed to focus on girl time. Fate had a different idea.

The line was 40 minutes long, but Scott took one for the team. She waited in the line to get her exhausted friends, who snagged a corner booth, some food. A group of guys, dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, stood in front of her. The red turtle, Raphael, noticed Scott, who was dressed in a bright pink Britney Spears costume.

“The guy, 20 minutes into the conversation, asks, ‘Can I take you on a date?’” Scott said. “I looked at him, thinking, ‘I just met you 20 minutes ago. You’re dressed as a Ninja Turtle. How is this going to happen?’”

Scott gave him her phone number, expecting to never hear from him again.

But she did. Her mysterious Ninja Turtle texted Scott asking to read some articles she wrote for The Daily Tar Heel.

“I thought, ‘Wow, he actually wants to know, maybe, about my life,’” Scott said. “He maybe wants to know me.”

Corey James, who graduated from UNC in 2014, did want to get to know her. The two have been dating ever since they met in [B]Ski’s in 2015.

Stories like Scott’s aren’t all that common in the college dating scene.

From hang out to hookup

The hookup­­—a catch-all phrase describing casual romantic or sexual activities—has altered how students are meeting.

“Significant relationship events occur in a different order for college students now,” Tatum Jolink, a graduate student in psychology, said. “It often kicks off with hooking up.”

Jolink studies the development of close romantic relationships from initial attraction to long-term commitment. She said physical intimacy used to develop after a date, but now it’s what initiates relationships.

Although the process has changed, Jolink said students still prefer meeting their significant other through traditional means, like going to dinner or meeting in class.

“People have these ideas and these goals for how they’re going to meet their partner,” she said. “If they hook up with someone and that’s not really in line with how they imagined meeting someone, they think, ‘I’m not going to date them because we hooked up already.’”

Sophomore Breanna Welles said going on dates in college is nearly nonexistent.

Changing dating traditions

“I’m very traditional,” she said. “I wish it was more prevalent in today’s society. It’s better if someone asks in person or actually goes on a date, like dinner or coffee. Instead of this ‘let’s hang out’ type of thing.”

Senior Chandler Starr said he takes a more relaxed approach to dating. He doesn’t have a certain idea of how he should meet his significant other.

“As long as you both meet in a place or situation where you were comfortable, then you’re doing something right,” he said. “If you feel comfortable with that person, you should keep talking to them.”

Although students idolize this traditional dating process, senior Maggie Berra said it never happens—reflecting what Jolink has observed.

“You hook up first,” she said. “If that goes anywhere, you’ll text for a while. You’ll start hooking up regularly. You’ll hang out more. You’ll meet their friends. Then, you’re talking. Then, you’ll be an exclusive thing and then, you’ll date.”

The introduction of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge have further altered the college dating scene.

“They have to learn what the norms are,” Jolink said. “Is Tinder more for hooking up or finding a relationship? What about Hinge? What about Bumble? Is one of them more respectful?”

These apps still don’t align with many students’ ideas of how they should meet their significant other.

“Technology has really altered dating,” Welles said. “[Men] will hide behind their phones by asking girls to go out with them. If she says no, the phone is a way to protect themselves from rejection.”

Berra said she had a success with Tinder. She matched with a friend on the app, who she had met before. The two began spending more time together, eventually dating for a semester.

Although Berra had a success on a dating app, she said her ideal situation still aligns more with a traditional scenario.

“I would love for someone to come up to me in the library and say like, ‘You look so nerdy cute studying.’ That would be awesome,” she said. “But that’s never going to happen because no one would ever do that in this day and age.”

In addition to desiring a traditional dating process, Jolink said students, in heterosexual relationships, opt to follow traditional gender roles—even though many claim they don’t need to.

Jolink said there is equal endorsement among men and women to initiate a date or define the relationship.

“However, it’s typically the men who do both,” she said. “Both genders are saying it could be either of them who progress the relationship along, but in reality, women aren’t active in those roles. It’s the men who are both proposing dates and defining the relationship.”

Sophomore Jose Espitia said he prefers asking women on dates, rather than women initiating them.

“There’s this certain feeling or connection to a person,” he said. “For me personally, I will know if I want to date a girl within a couple of moments of interacting with her. You just have this feeling of wanting to spend time with a person and if I don’t have that feeling, then I don’t want to date. If she asks me to dinner or to hang out, and I don’t feel that initial connection, then I’m more inclined to say no.”

“Matching” doesn’t always guarantee a good match

Rooted in the prevalent desire for a traditional dating experience, Scott said students come to college expecting to find their match. She said she had this expectation too, and though it worked out for her and James, she recognizes it doesn’t for most.

“Coming from high school, you feel like all of your market is saturated,” she said. “You’ve met the people. You’ve probably gone to school with them your whole life and you just want to meet people you’ve never met before. You think ‘there’s got to be someone for me.’”

Espitia said the larger array of people in college encourages students to date multiple people.

“There’s more opportunity here, so you don’t settle,” he said. “You have an image of a girl you want and you’re like ‘I’m bound to find her because there’s a lot of people here.’”

Juniors Marigny Strauss and Trent Martensen faced a similar challenge. The two began dating their first year at UNC. Although they spent a majority of their time together, Strauss wasn’t sure she wanted to be in a relationship.

“I thought that for the long run we should take the first semester and not date because we had just come to college,” she said. “I felt the need to have a good college experience.”

Martensen felt differently. He said he pursued Strauss for three months. He wanted to take the traditional approach by beginning their relationship as friends.

“I didn’t have money to go on really expensive dates,” he said. “We would go to the gym and shoot hoops during breaks because she couldn’t go home, so I would stay here too. There would be no one else on campus, which was nice. I remember spending hours passing the football in my room and just talking.”

Strauss said it’s challenging to date in college, but it’s worth it.

“It’s hard when you feel like everyone else is going out, flirting with people and having fun being single,” she said. “But I think a lot of people are looking for their person and they’re going out to hook up, so it’s nice knowing I don’t really have to do that because I already have my person.”

Scott said [B]Ski’s will always have a significance to her. Her boyfriend got her a necklace last year for her birthday before she went abroad. It was a plaque necklace with what he said were the coordinates of Chapel Hill engraved on it.

“When I got back, he later told me it was the coordinates of [B]Ski’s.”

Edited by Jack Smith