Festive Frontier Feasting!

Like many of the holiday events offered through Elemental Kids, the inspiration for “Festive Frontier Feasting” emerged out of happy memories of my childhood. I have always loved a feast – there is something thrilling about everyone coming together and the sheer abundance of the whole experience. Some of my fondest memories are of feasts with my Jewish grandparents and extended family in Miami, with mountains of delicious food and lots of loud conversation. It was a riot of ideas, debates, stories and laughter. I loved it! Then there were the feasts my parents held at our farm in Ohio when I was a child. There always seemed to be a massive bonfire, tables full of steaming food, talking, the obligatory guitar and singing, not to mention dancing. We lived on a sort of frontier too at the time, a transitional space. It was a farm in the rural Midwest where some of our neighbours were still brewing moonshine in the mountains and living off the land. These were the real feasts that took place in the world, but I also had a rich imagination and read a lot so there were other crazy events that grew from my fantasy world. Once we I was about 9, I spent several days preparing for a feast with a group friends in their grandmother’s attic. We were in love with Lord of the Rings, the location was “The Shire” and we were a mixed bag of the story characters. We built structures in the attic, made invitations, planned the meal and festivities. It was a blast!

I wanted to create space for children participating in this holiday event to have a similarly magical experience – time to create, plan, play and experience what they were able to dream up. I am delighted to say, the week was all that and more!

Gary managed a dynamic art space throughout the week, where children created wooden plates with burnt designs for the feast.

Children also worked with clay, made truck loads of candles (especially Nathan who manufactured an ice cream tub full), and secret messages painted with lemon juice that showed up when they are passed over a candle!

There were magical sticks that worked in battle, stick fighting is always a deeply engaging activity for children at every holiday event. Decorating the sticks with colourful tape in the art space was a source of great delight. Liam extended the sticks to create axes too – an innovation that led to new forms of play and creativity 🙂

To create the feast, we first had to agree as a whole group on where it was taking place, who we were and what we were feasting for. This decision took time but after exploring ideas in our different groups, presenting them for consideration, the children decided to have a feast that took place on a Martian beach. We were a combination of Martians and San people coming together to celebrate our friendship! Once we worked this out, children worked on the venue, food and entertainment.

The venue group was the smallest but the ideas were big! Melanie crafted a detailed plan for everyone which involved martian’s, palm trees and beautiful tables. We ended up working on a massive backdrop which showed what we would see of the night sky from our beach in Mars. The result was magical, especially when we hung it up and the sun was shining through the windows at the same time and illuminated the massive sun we had painted too 🙂

It turned out we had an exceptionally talented group of children with us and many of them loved to perform too. Our new facilitator, Zoe, used her performance expertise to support the children as they created a host of plays and dances for the final event. On the day of the event, their performances concluded with a group dance on the stage 🙂

Deciding on what food to serve and making was really the main focus of the children though – they had so many delicious things that they wanted to eat! Eventually with Clare’s support, the menu was whittled down to starters (salad), main course (kebab’s and bread) and dessert (waffles, ice cream and chocolate sauce). It took days of planning, trips to the shop and hours of cooking to get it all ready. When it came time to eat, everyone loved the end result 🙂

It was a most excellent week and I have not even been able to share everything we did – there was so much fun and laughter, children making new friends and being with old ones, we went to the park, played games, read books and spent time enjoying the warm winter days. Thank you again for everyone who was part of the joyful experience (children and parents)! Thank you to the team of exceptional facilitators who worked with me during the week, it was such a pleasure being with you on the team! A big thank you to the Environmental Education Department for the use of the space, it was warm and lovely 🙂

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