What was initially designed as a charitable benefit is turning into a regular event for Fine Linen Theatre, who recently announced the date for their Happily Ever After Fairy Tale Festival.

The festival began as an adoption benefit to help a family bring a new child into their home. After seeing the community respond positively to the events specific flavor of interactive theatre, Fine Linen decided to bring the festival back. Amy Hobbs, director and coordinator of the event, and founding member of Fine Linen said she is glad to see the event return. 


“It was something we put together spur of the moment,” she said about last year’s festival. “We realized we had a lot of these costumes, these sets and the talent, and that it was something we could do. We felt like there wasn’t anything like this in the Rolla area. We did it as an adoption benefit and it was a lot of fun. We decided to explore the idea of making it an annual event."


Since last year’s success, Hobbs said she and the rest of Fine Linen have been fine tuning and making changes to the festival. For example, last year was a come-and-go event with donations accepted. This year will be a ticketed event. 


“We’re basically adding it to our regular season,” said Hobbs, who explained that throughout any season, Fine Linen works to provide a variety of theatre to appeal to a broad range of interests. The fairy tale festival is taking that a step further, and including another kind of interest for them to engage. 


Hobbs said the festival is aimed at children who “aren’t ready to sit and experience a two hour show,” but are able and wanting to engage with role playing, story telling and creativity. More than 20 activity booth areas will be set up for children to enjoy, making snowmen with Frozen’s Olaf or taking part in an archery competition with Robin Hood. Many will have craft projects kids can take home with them. There will be a traditional theatre experience at the beginning, with songs and performances, but Hobbs said even this portion of the evening is meant to be interactive and engaging with young children. 


As a mother of two young children, a five and a three-year-old, and having been involved in Fine Linen since the beginning, Hobbs said being able to produce an event aimed towards younger kids is “big” for her. 


“This is theatre for they don’t have to sit down and be quiet for,” she said. “It’s all designed to be interactive, even the part when you’re sitting and watching,” she said, adding that creativity and imagination are important for healthy development in young children. 


The fairy tale theme according to Hobbs, allows allows Fine Linen to make use of the costumes they’ve built for previous shows, bringing out old costumes and props audience members might recognize from past productions. 


“It’s been really wonderful for us to see the things we’ve made for previous shows come back out and get used again,” said Hobbs. 


By adding the fairy tail festival to Fine Linen’s regular season as a ticketed event, Hobbs said it will help them be able to cover costs that arise even when they’re not producing a show, such as paying for storage and their online ticketing system, which they feel is an important service to offer residents interesting in seeing local theatre. 


Hobbs said they didn’t want costs to discourage parent’s from bringing their children to the event, so the festival is one of the few theatre productions that is cheaper for adults to attend. While each child, from ages 2-12, can enter for $6, it costs only a dollar for an adult to accompany their children. Any child a year-old or less is free to bring along. 


The Happily Ever After Fairy Tale Festival will take place on Friday, July 20 at the Columbia College Auditorium at 6:30 p.m., as well as on Saturday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m.. Tickets are available on Fine Linen’s website.