May 14th, 2010

Lost In Farytale Forest





Paul Woehle Sr, a 40 year old German immigrant, began building Fairytale Forest with his own hands, in 1955.
Aided by his two sons, Fairytale Forest opened it's gates to the public in 1957...

A winding walking path led you through the forest, along the way you were able to glimpse key moments from Grimm fairytales.
In all, over 20 cottages sat nestled in the woodlands, inside were frozen scenes depicting events from most all famous children's stories.
Though you could not actually enter the buildings, you could peek through the windows to see what was unfolding inside.
A small plaque gave a brief summery of what to expect within the cottage walls,
be it the Gingerbread man escaping, or the three bears finding Goldilocks asleep in their bed...

Come Winter, the forest was decorated to the brim with lights, transforming into a kind of winter wonderland
that you ironically can now only see on the storybook pages which this park was trying to recreate.
Upon entering the winter village, you were greeted by Frosty the snowman and a cup of hot chocolate.
Santa awaited you in his small Christmas house and asked you what you wanted for the holidays.



Present day finds the doors of the paint-peeled cottages kicked it, their former residents torn apart and missing.
The viewing windows are almost all smashed, and Christmas lights are scattered randomly throughout the woods.
If anything can be called a sign of the times, than this surely must be...

These aren't just sad children's stories left forgotten in the forest, this is my childhood.
Though I may have only been 5 or 6 when I was last there, memories came rushing back to me as I wandered the forest.
I found myself remembering the Christmas village with the elves packing the presents for kids,
holiday music coming from the speakers in the trees.
I remembered having to stand on my tip-toes to see through the window on Snow White's house.
I remembered wondering if the gingerbread house was actually gingerbread...
These were thoughts I had to push from my mind while photographing, because they were actually inhibiting my work.
Several times I just wanted to stop and go home, to spare myself from reliving more memories that I didn't know I had...
In the end though, I was able to complete the task at hand... and as we returned to the Jeep the skies opened up with rain.






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