So follows is my review and thoughts on Mayfaire 2012. I would like to point out; that I believe it is the only review I have ever heard of that was written by one of the event organizers. This is my perspective, but with that, please recognize the above and forgive me this flaw, also know that no matter how much you may want it otherwise, it’s not something that is any time soon about to change.
Mayfaire is a festival organized by and for the community around the celebration of Beltane. So perhaps it is a bit odd, that Mayfaire began in November as far as I am concerned. Within a week or two after the festival Shadow Harvest (occurs around Samhain), I found myself sitting, wondering if I had imagined the words that had come out of my mouth not two minutes hitherto. I had willingly offered to organize the festival, coordinate the planning, and be the central axis for the execution of its operation. Why? Why had I done it?
At the time, I had seen the toll that the previous and repeated effort for organizing two festivals a year was taking on several of my very close friends. I also knew that I was the one with the logistical experience for this kind of event. Within a few weeks… no scrap that. Within a few days, it had transformed into an act of devotion between me and the Witch Goddess and Witch God. A very long story made short, I spent on average an hour a weekday up until the festival began devoted towards planning. I pretended that Mayfaire didn’t exist on the weekends.
Friday morning I arrived at Mayfaire before the gate was scheduled to open, armed with a stack of paperwork and an extremely detailed military style schedule and operational plan. Yes, I meant every word of that sentence. I used the same exact instruction letters and spreadsheets for Mayfaire that I use in the military for planning training events. Within ten minutes, I had already made two changes to the plan, a trend that was on going and why I had a pen attached to my clipboard. This was expected. As the Prussian General Von Moltke said, “No plan ever survived first contact with the enemy,” well, I am here to tell you, “No plan ever survived first contact with the opening of the festival gates.”
The very first thing on my 'operational' schedule (not the one passed out) was the very first of many minor obstacles. The gate was to open at 1000 (10 a.m. sharp), and I had no one to stand it. The community, as they did throughout the weekend, came to my rescue. Someone that I more told than asked was more than happy to take care of it. I won’t bore you with further such petty details. Just know they existed and each and every time, the community stepped in when I asked them to. Thank you!
After a quick meeting, I assisted in making the Festival Announcements. They were quick and straight to the point. The seed that was planted months before hand had broken the surface, soon we would know whether it would flower or wither. I made my rounds frequently in those first few hours, setting precedence. I missed out in entirety on several good workshops because of it, luckily there were a couple of music performances and I could enjoy from afar. On the first day, I stood in on about a quarter of Kenny Klein’s class, “History of Modern Paganism.” I was present for the entirety of the Opening Ritual.
The tone for the weekend was set during Opening Ritual. At least for me the tone was set at that time. It was serious, solemn, informative, and simultaneously full of mirth, laughter, absurd silliness, and a reminder not to take any of it too serious. The Muscadine Grove, ADF, had on one hand made serious gestures of offering to the Folk, Gods, and Ancestors, all the while on the other hand, spontaneously breaking out into booty shaking dance.
Don’t get me wrong, as much as it may sound like I did nothing but run around coordinating on the first day, it just ain’t true. I worked, truly worked, about 30 minutes out of every hour. The rest of the time was spent sitting, making sure I ate, keeping Lady Clayfeather from stressing (which is simply not allowed and was strictly forbidden in the published Letter of Instruction), and most importantly laughing, chatting, and greeting old and new friends alike. So whereas I could have attended more proceedings, I chose to attend to other things.
I awoke around 0600’ish (6 a.m. Pagan Standard Time). I felt rested, having slept later than usual compared to my normal work schedule. I meandered around the fire, ate something, and found some caffeine. As the camp began to stir I went to find my clipboard, Lord and Lady forbid had I lost ‘my brain.’ I soon found out that there had been a minor domestic squabble brought to the festival and promptly went back into coordinator mode. Once the problem was solved, the mega-phone was soon in full swing again as the day’s events got underway.
All the classes and workshops throughout the day were splendid, and I know because I either attended full-out or caught most of them in between my duties and wondering the vendor booths, campsites, and the ever present chatting.
Saturday brought my biggest disappointment of the entire festival. A friend of mine became very upset about some things at the festival and left early, having reached their limit. I feel for them and wish I could have done more.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but the biggest part of any festival is the main ceremony. I am only gonna say a couple of small things here. Firstly, I thought the ceremony went great. The wickerman burning was breath taking. But I have one minor little confession, which I make in the spirit of this blog. I changed the ritual on the fly, more than once, throughout the whole thing. So there you go, there is the dirty little secret every Priest and Priestess learns early on.
I am only gonna say two more quick things about Saturday. The Maypole Dance and the Festival Potluck, both handled by other local groups, were both the most well done I have ever seen. Well done, you know who you are.
Sunday brought with it the pains of the central fire mirth the night before. I was not hung-over, but sore from exerting so much in my dance with the fire and drummers. I am glad to have gotten to fire dance. It is something I deeply look forward to. I am grateful for all those that drummed their hearts out so I could fall into the trance that makes it possible. However, I am still recovering.
The raffle was probably the most fun on Sunday with everyone laughing, being silly, and tensely leaning forward in their chairs glancing every few moments at their tickets. The crowd very soon thinned out and by the time the closing ritual came (smooring the fire), there were maybe twenty people left, out of the 156 that had signed in.
So there you go. That was Mayfaire, or at least one experience of it. Please enjoy the pictures that follow. By the way, I took none of them, I’d give the proper credit due but I’ve lost track of where I’ve pulled them all from.
May Pole Dance.
The Wicker Man in perspective.
Wicker Man with ritual participants in background.
Wicker Man, see how high the flames go.
Almost done burning.
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."