Just around the corner from downtown Northville, Michigan sits Mill Race Village, a collection of original houses of the Victorian era brought from their original locations around Northville to be kept safe as monuments to the past. Last week some friends and I visited the Village to check out their Victorian clothing sale, and this past weekend was the Victorian Festival in downtown Northville.
It wasn't a large street festival, but we did manage to spend most of the day there. Chief among the attractions for me was the promise of being able to paint my own fairy door! The fairy doors that have been popping up in Northville are quite different from the fairy doors of Ann Arbor. We spotted at least of them, each highly decorated and many featuring the name of the shop outside which they were located.
Though I did find a Wikipedia entry about the Ann Arbor fairy doors (and listing the location of the much-sought goblin door!!), I did not find any mention of fairy doors in Northville. The entry does say, however, that the fairy door phenomenon is spreading to the surrounding region, including the first rural fairy door located in Dexter.
Other than the fairy courtyard, there were a few other little attractions at the Festival. Most of the merchants were in costume, as well as local school children working on fundraisers for their classes.
One particularly dapper chap was dressed to the nines and selling handmade soap. Kimmy ended up buying a bar of cherry scented soap from him for our apartment's bathroom. It smells wonderful! We chatted with him for a bit and recommended that he investigate not only the Ann Arbor farmers market (he already attends the one in Ypsi), but the Sunday artists market, as well, which he hadn't heard about. I look forward to seeing him again!
The four of us girls stopped for lunch at an adorable coffee shop called the Tuscan Cafe that had a very Victorian feel, and I doubt it was only for the Festival. I ordered the Fly Me to the Moon, a fabulous turkey and cheese on Zingerman's delicious sourdough bread. They also offered a pumpkin spice latte that sorely tempted me, but I opted for a shaved ice from the Hawaiian ice truck parked a block away. I hadn't had proper shaved ice since I was in Japan (where it is called kakigoori). Shaved ice is similar to a snow cone, but the ice is finer, shaved rather than crushed, and requires the use of a spoon. Snow cones pale in comparison to fresh kakigoori.
The other end of the Festival from the merchants was devoted to miniature carnival rides, a giant bouncy house and slide that were, tragically, not for adults, and a stage that included Punch and Judy puppet shows and a few magicians.
Greg didn't arrive until later, when many of the merchants were packing up, so we wandered in the many artsy shops of downtown Northville. We quite enjoyed Your Michigan Connection with its really cool T-shirts, but I think everyone's favorite was the home and garden accessories store on Main, for which I cannot find the name. It was beautifully decorated for Halloween right up front, and I wanted to take nearly everything home with me!
From downtown, we meandered to the park next to Mill Race Village where Remax was offering free hot air balloon rides. My feet were killing me at that point, and the balloon only went a few dozen feet in the air, then back down again, so we opted for a fun photoshoot in the Village instead. Another group of young women was already there with professional cameras and beautiful costumes.
The building I love most is the grand house in the back that has been fully restored and you are allowed to walk through. It's so beautiful! One day I hope to incorporate many of its architectural elements, should they not already be present, in my future home.
And there you have it, the Northville Victorian Festival. I think I would like to go again next year, but also my two trips to downtown Northville incline me to visit again even not under a festive atmosphere. It is very refreshing to see a downtown thriving. I noted the same on our trip to Dexter. Maybe it is something about this side of the state, I don't know. But I like it, and look forward to exploring more of my neighboring towns.