Rites of Spring


If you usually associate school fairs with game booths and cotton candy, you haven’t been to the annual May Faire at Highland Hall.

The school, which holds an elaborate themed festival each spring, will present a Renaissance May Faire this Saturday--its 12th annual event.

“It’s a real mini-Renaissance Fair, not your usual small school carnival,” said Sandy Nelson, festival organizer and a member of the Highland Hall Parent Assn.


According to enrollment director Barbara Erickson, Highland Hall is an independent Waldorf School based on the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner, who advocated instilling a love for learning through movement, music and crafts, among other things.

“Still, the festival is not an open house or academic exercise,” said Erickson. “It’s a way to celebrate spring and the coming year, to eat good food, listen to music and to play!”

Under a huge canopy, each school class will offer a variety of hands-on crafts ranging from simple pomanders for young children to wind chimes, floral hair wreaths and banners for older kids and adults.

“But we also have up to 20 artisans from the community who will sell their wares--from handmade women’s clothing to jewelry and scents,” said Nelson.

Entertainment will be provided by professional performers, including Renfield, a Celtic music and dance troupe, two strolling minstrels with lutes and flutes, a bagpiper and a harpist. In addition, a Tarot reader will be on hand, and a giant tug-of-war, sack races and other games will be offered, monitored by parents in costume.

“Parents really get into the spirit of this,” said past organizer Marla Sutherland, whose daughter has attended Highland Hall for eight years. “They’re the ones who are making the fair happen.”

The centerpiece, as always, will be the dance around the maypole, which traditionally launches the festival.

“That’s the main focus, which the children really enjoy,” said Sutherland. “Each class, dressed in white, does its own dance holding streamers, which they weave in increasingly intricate patterns. At the end, what you see is this wonderful pattern of brightly colored ribbons. It’s so fairylike and beautiful!”

Added Sutherland, “Ideally, the whole festival is very interactive. By coming out there and celebrating spring and the changing of the seasons, the children have a chance not only to bring their lessons alive, but to bring the whole community together.”


Renaissance May Faire on Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free admission; a small fee for crafts, food and special attractions. Highland Hall Waldorf School, 17100 Superior St., Northridge. Visitors are welcome in costumes. (818) 349-1394.