For Edsel and Eleanor Ford, providing play spaces for their family was a top priority, and their estate features a variety of kid-friendly amenities, including a lavish play house, amusing gardens and a landscaped pool for warm summer days.
That is why the Ford House works diligently throughout the year to create programming that attracts miniature history buffs, tiny landscapers and pretty much every other kid that might drag their parents to the waterfront estate, said Ann Fitzpatrick, vice president of communication for the Historic Ford Estates.
Its Fifth Annual Fairy Tale Festival, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, is a prime example of how the Ford House looks for ways to invite families onto its lush grounds and into its buildings, Fitzpatrick said. And offering this kind of “edu-tainment” is an ideal fit for the Grosse Pointe Shores landmark.
“Everyone is welcome here; that is how you make memories as a family,” Fitzpatrick said. “One of our most popular school tours is our ‘behind the scenes’ tour where kids are assigned a role to play, like Edsel Ford or Josephine (his daughter) or even the butler.”
The Fairy Tale Festival is part of a summer’s worth of children’s programming. The main event has become a family favorite, Fitzpatrick said. In its first year, the Ford House hoped to have about 1,000 attendees; more than double total showed up. That is when they knew they had a winner, she noted.
The lakefront grounds of the Ford estate this year will highlight the Fairy Tale Festival’s theme of “Things with Wings.” Organizers brought in a variety of flying things to appeal to everyone in the family, Fitzpatrick said, including bats, fairies, dragons, butterflies, airplanes and superheroes.
The event, which appeals to children from age 2 through adults, includes storytelling, art, music, performances, activities and exploration of the Ford House estate. Highlights of this year’s festival include air jumpers that help kids simulate flying; a Bat Zone through the Cranbrook Institute of Science; radio-controlled airplane demonstrations; performances from the Magic Carpet Theatre and Grosse Pointe Theatre, as well as a butterfly release in the gardens.
Festival attendees will also be among the first to view the creatively decorated butterfly benches created for the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce’s “Seat Yourself in Grosse Pointe” program. This will be the only opportunity to see the winged themed benches before they fly away to businesses throughout the Grosse Pointe communities.
Karen Dybis is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.
Fairy Tale Festival
Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
1100 Lake Shore, Grosse Pointe Shores
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Tickets $12 in advance and $15 at the door