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Carmichael Times

Fairytale Town's New Story

Mar 26, 2024 08:54AM ● By Kristina Rogers, photos by Kristina Rogers
Executive Director Kevin Smith-Fagan.

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Long-time Land Park residents could have heartfelt memories about their moments at Fairytale Town. But if they haven’t stepped in for some time, the changes could be surprising. Much can be attributed to the diligence of Kevin Smith-Fagan, executive director, in regards to the shiny new look. Upgrades have moved along quickly since he took the helm in January 2020.

For instance, the Story Center opened in November 2022. It’s a cottage-style building with a thatched roof that seamlessly complements the rest of the site. This could be because Otto Construction, which originally developed the site in 1959, built it.

welcome center Fairytale Town

 The new welcome center is almost complete.

Next is the new welcome center, which Smith-Fagan says will be a transformative entryway into the park. Modern ticket windows will streamline entry along with new public restrooms nearby. For the first time, staff will have a professional office space. A gift shop will offer an array of Fairytale Town souvenirs, such as magnets, books, water bottles, and toys. And Smith-Fagan notes, “It’s not a Fairytale Town gift shop if it doesn't have a Humpty Dumpty plush!"

Speaking of the Fairytale Town mascot, the entrance is also experiencing a remodel. Everyone is reassured the iconic stone entrance is not going anywhere. Humpty has been on his perch, welcoming guests for six decades, and will remain there. Of course, it will no longer be the main entrance but a secondary entry for little ones (and brave adults).

soldier trash can Fairytale Town

 New paint has upgraded the charm of amenities like this soldier trash can.

While managing the master plan expansion, the executive director has also ensured fresh paint and that fix-it projects have improved older amenities, like the Crooked Mile and Dish & Spoon Café. But Kevin Smith-Fagan isn't finished dreaming: “What comes next is very important. The Sacramento community is different from when it opened 65 years ago. Most current playsets are originals drawn from the European area, which is great. Still, every child who comes to Fairytale Town should see themselves represented there.” He continued, “We want to add new playsets representing folktales from parts of the world we don't have now. I envision adding amenities from countries like China, Mexico, and South America.”

Dish & Spoon Cafe Fairytale Town

 Guests get treats from the Dish & Spoon Café.

None of this work could be done without the collaboration between Smith-Fagan and a proactive board of directors. Fairytale Town isn’t privately-owned, but a non-profit. The city stopped managing its operations in 1997. Although it is located in William Land Regional Park, Fairytale Town does not receive City or Measure U funds.

The board works hard to ensure ticket prices remain low to keep it as accessible as possible for all families. But this means robust fundraising is key. Monies from auctions, memberships, donations, grants, and sponsorships help pay the bills. Regular income from ticket and concessions sales are also reinvested into the site.

three little pigs

 One of the three little pigs greets visitors with a happy grunt.

The annual online auction in March has just been completed, and the yearly Brewfest is slated for August 24th. Every penny counts when covering costs for staff, maintenance, and, of course, the animals. Fairytale Town is a long-time community partner providing educational experiences for schoolchildren. Smith-Fagan said, “We have several barnyard animals like goats, sheep and pigs. We also have reptiles and insects.” The animal staff are educators who do around 100 classroom visits each year at local elementary schools bringing a menagerie of creatures with them.  

Scout troops also experience overnight campout events on-site. They earn badges, set up campsites, play games, and roast marshmallows. The premises are entirely secure during these events, allowing kids to explore the park safely. The summer day camp programs are very popular, too. Parents start calling in January to secure a spot for their child.

August 29th will be Fairytale Town's 65th anniversary. The park is looking to combine a celebration with the Brewfest event. Smith-Fagan is excited about finalizing plans: “This is a big milestone for us. There’s something about this experience that really sticks with kids," And adults, too.

Smith-Fagan remembers taking his own children to the site. His family moved to Land Park in 2003 when their youngest was four. Now he sees his grown children’s friends bring their own kids. So, the current executive director understands how remarkable the Fairytale Town experience is.

“We love making treasured life-long memories. It’s astonishing how vivid people’s memories are. I remember talking to a guy who was here on opening day in 1959. He told me he remembers everything about that moment.”

And new pages in the ever-growing scrapbook of family memories of Fairytale Town just keep being added.