Out & About: Magic of Storytelling Alive at Windsor’s Enchanted Forest

Valley News Calendar Editor
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Windsor — The Enchanted Forest event has a mythical status in Windsor.

The legend goes that, in the 1990s, storytellers would gather in the forest to share tall tales as fires glowed beside them. Children and adults alike would be rapt with attention. The inspiration for the then-annual event came from a group of girls who would explore Paradise Park, coming back with all sorts of stories.

“Using their imaginations, they would find fairies, gnomes, those sorts of things,” said Windsor Public Library Director Christine Porter, who began hearing about the fabled recreation department event from other residents. “People just have this love for this event. When they talk about it, everyone just smiles. Everyone has fond memories of this event.”

This Saturday, the Enchanted Forest is returning to Paradise Park from 4-6 p.m. Sponsored by the Friends of Windsor Library, the event is free, but donations for the library are welcome. Timed tickets are available at the library. It will be held rain or shine.

Upper Valley storytellers Tom Haushalter, Zachary Husband, Marv Klassen-Landis and Michael Zerphy will sit at stations in Paradise Park to tell stories. The trail starts off County Road and is lit by glow sticks. Groups will be sent in at 15-minute intervals beginning at 4 p.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. After they complete the last station, they’ll be led to a clearing where refreshments and crafts await them.

“It’s a nice walk through the woods,” Porter said. “It’s geared toward kids, but anyone of any age is going to find this entertaining and enjoyable.”

Zerphy, who has been a storyteller for nearly 40 years, was involved in the first iteration of the event.

“I have heard people in the past (say) how they went to it when they were kids. Now they’re older and they have kids and they remember that it was such a magical experience to go through the woods and they want to see it happen again,” he said. “That really ties together the new and the old, and I think that’s what storytelling in general does.”

Zerphy is working on a new story for the event with a working title of The Boy Who Dreamed He Was a Clown and a Flying Pig. (Spoiler alert: The flying pig helps the boy learn how to juggle.)

Klassen-Landis is looking forward to telling the traditional tale Lazy Jack.

“It’s really, having it in the forest, around the campfire and walking in between is just really magical,” said Klassen-Landis, who has been a storyteller since the 1990s. “It’s so different than doing it inside a building.”

The campfires bring an ancient element to the event.

“It goes back as old as we could speak, people gathered around a fire and someone telling a story,” he said. “It’s different from watching TV or doing something online.”

It also helps people to connect to one another, which is emblematic of the spirit of Vermont.

“That’s still tradition that’s alive today,” Zerphy said. “Talking to your neighbors. Being friendly. Slowing down.”

Hearing a story told, people have to focus. They have to block out other distractions and be int he moment.

“You really want people to set the world aside and get into a different space,” Zerphy said. “We’re all looking forward it.”

Editor’s note: To request tickets, visit the Windsor Public Library at 43 State St., or call 802-674-2556. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.