Creating the Visitors Webpage for Twistful Meadow
Giant Puppets and Costumed Characters
The Maze and Playground
Back to Ecstatic Theatrics at TekVenture
The Twistful Meadow
(c) 2020 Jeannette Jaquish
Outdoor Fantasy & Mechanism Nature Park Coming to Fort WayneA Maze with giant puppets, Costumed Character Tours and more are being formed the meadow north of the TekVenture building.
I am Jeannette Jaquish, Keeper of the Stage at TekVenture. I am researching adventure playgrounds and interactive theater and STEAM hands-on projects as I design Twistful Meadows. I have begun mowing the maze, festival flat, tour trek, and rounding up helpers.
SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE
In Tucson, where I am from, there is a whimsical place called The Valley of the Moon, begun in 1932 by George Phar Legler who, using cement and rocks, wood and glass, built fantasy castles, bridges, theaters, benches and creatures along a winding trail. The man is a Tucson legend and the Moon's fairy tale and Halloween trails and interactive characters are wildly popular.
--- THE ABOVE ARE PHOTOS OF VALLEY OF THE MOON IN TUCSON, AZ.
I CAN DO A SIMILAR THING HERE USING VOLUNTEERS & SCRAP.
I have designed and staged many fun, quirky, suspenseful, and sneakily educational events, and the meadow at TekVenture is a perfect place to do an outdoor version.
Constructions outside can be built inside TekVenture's workshops.
Our maker space members really get into applying their industrial skills and power tools on big projects.
Inside the TekVenture building, I adapted the old River City band platform and added a pulley-controlled stage curtain, a lighting grid and controls, modular scenery and two stairs to turn it into a theatrical stage. With local actors, I performed six scripts I have written, including an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and a Harry Potter parody.
I have written over 40 theater scripts and directed live theater for 25 years --Theater Scripts website. I ran the Firehouse Theater in Fort Wayne, 2006-2010 doing 78 different shows and events and 305 performances. In the 1990's I produced a science and math game show at Access Tucson.
Other TekVenture members have experience designing haunted houses, running businesses, home construction, auto mechanics, electronics, electrical wiring, and handling the public. They can advise me, and might help.
THE MEADOW HAS A LOT TO OFFER
The meadow is a good sized healthy piece of land, bounded on two sides by the Maumee River and its tree-lined shore. It has critters and wildflowers. It has a large parking lot and the TekVenture wheelchair-accessible building with restrooms and a snackbar and room for indoor activities. Branches trimmed from the trees near the river can be stuck in the ground for framing pathways and decorating.
Fort Wayne is re-discovering its rivers and the meadow shore has spots to construct a dock for launching canoes or to sit and watch the river. Our proximity will get us into the action of downtown events like Three Rivers Festival.
In 2018, for a TekVenture art fair, I mowed a maze in the meadow plus an open area for vendors and an outdoor stage under a tent, shown in the photo. A grass maze is not difficult to create. The secret is to mow the correct path first and then go back and add the dead ends.
This maze was too big; though it left a lot of empty space, it still took over an hour to walk even if you knew the way. A better version would have optional exits creating simple, medium and advanced mazes. Even then, there is plenty of room in the meadow for additional activity areas.
-- The Festival Flat -- A mown area for festival type events, fireworks watching, sports, and concerts, plus vendor space. The focus would be a simple wooden stage of treated wood, decorated with curtains and streamers on poles, assembled with bolts for easy disassembly and stacked storage, or moved inside to be audience platforms for the theater.
-- The Twisting Trek -- Curving around the festival flat is the winding path for a Theme Tour. The Character guide leads visitors to performance spots where characters interact, perform and challenge. For instance, Alice would lead us to visit The Mad Hatter and the Tea Party; the Duchess tossing a crying baby with her pepper-shaking Cook and the Cheshire Cat; Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee; The Red Queen, the Whiny King and her Card Guards.
Pinocchio, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Christopher Robin, and a Halloween Ghoul could lead such tours. Performance spots might have magicians, riddlers, puppets, combatants or storytellers. For a real adrenaline surge, video-game-style live-action games along this trail would have scary characters and giant walking puppets (that you can help make) popping out to do battle with our trekkers who we have armed with squirt guns, laser tag rifles, or foam rubber clubs.
-- The Amazing Nature Maze -- A mowed maze, with optional escape paths thru marked arches or gates create a simple, medium, difficult levels and Labyrinth of Doom ending. (The walls will be from 9 to 36 inches high so you can escape an emergency by just tromping out.) The paths form geometrical and whimsical designs, there are a few open areas for refreshment and rest or to investigate a display of natural plants, a garden of cherry tomatoes they can pick and eat, a ground hog den, Munchkinland, playground, hobbit home, historical marker or puzzles to gather tokens at. Like the shorter Twisting Trek, the Maze can be a pseudo battle ground or pursuit game. See more ideas.
-- The Bicycle Trail - A simple winding mowed trail that frames the area. Hills could be added. An easy, exciting ride that encourages people to come on their bikes.
OR a road for The Fear Factory for a haunted jeep ride, along the tree line.
HOW TO BUILD IT
I want a MODULAR INFRASTRUCTURE so we can reconfigure for wide open events or pathway events. Every new event will be different in layout and decoration.
To do this, I plan that "structures" like booths, arches, fences, set pieces, and signs are attachments. They attach with bolts, hooks, padlocks or rope to the posts which lift out or drop into plastic lined post holes.
Posts can be actual 4x4 posts, or trimmed branches from the riverside trees, which need trimming anyways.
An empty post hole would get capped and hidden by dirt. We would need a map to keep track of them. Dig more as needed.
I am fine with permanent structures should TekVenture and the property owner want them. In the beginning, as we figure it out, I think modular is best.
Trimmed Branch Posts would look good as a row-"fence" across the front of the attraction area, guiding people toward the entrance. Posts can have hooks hand-screwed into them for hanging signs or supporting walls, or holes for running rope or bolts through. When not in use, cap the post holes and store the posts in a stack out of the weather. Trimmed branch-posts can be left in a pile, replaced when needed.
Signs and set pieces should be painted with oil based paint to repel rain. Repaired or discarded.
ON THE CHEAP I have volunteers, wood, cloth, poles, costumes, and we have skills. I can get a riding mower. What I need is permission, and to not trigger Neighborhood Enforcement before we are presentable. We need to establish ourselves as an operation that uses strips of tall grass and plants as a valid structure, as natural fencing. To show our tall border plants do not fit the definition of "weeds".
We need to decide HOW TO COLLECT MONEY -- at a ticket table during publicized events, or during regular operating hours, or try a Donation Box and see if generosity scores. A snackbar is always a profit maker and fun to build. Vendors pay to set up at well attended events.
Do we leave it open and unsupervised for free wandering with signs that say, "Play at Your Own Risk" and "Police Patrol This Area" and "Don't Bother the Beavers"?
We have had a theft and vandalism problem at this property. Possibly having fun loving regular people visiting at odd hours would discourage criminal behavior.
The uniqueness and Back to Nature aspect and nice visuals of this will attract the media.
SELF FUNDING When money starts coming in, I would want it to be spent on solar powered lights and maintenance and satisfying code at TekVenture, and when that is satisfied, spent to enhance the attraction.
It is important to be very ready and rehearsed to start off with an impressive event to establish a good first impression.