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Dear fairies: You are invited to New Richmond

Four local artists (from left to right) Bill Langford, Bill Driscoll, Mark Lusardi and Connie Evans, have helped create several fairy houses that will be installed in New Richmond parks this week. The houses are an open invitation for fairies to move back to the community, after a 114-year absence.1 / 2
The Dry-Run-Go-Getters 4-H Club decorated several fairy houses recently while at Messes and Masterpieces in New Richmond. Pictured (left to right) Jackie Mitchell, Dry-Run-Go-Getter's leader; Jeremiah Melby, Madeline Melby, Charlie Boe, Lexi Boe, Tony Graham, Jennifer Graham, Gianna Melby, Lydia Melby. Not pictured, Christine Melby, director of Messes & Masterpieces.2 / 2

New Richmond parks might see an uptick in activity this summer, thanks to a creative construction project.

A diverse group of local artists, 4-H members, parents and city officials are launching a new effort in community parks this week. A number of fairy houses have been constructed, decorated and placed in various locations.

According to Christine Melby, founder of Messes and Masterpieces and project coordinator, the idea came from similar efforts in parks across the nation.

There are no maps to help people find the nine houses, Melby explained. People are encouraged to visit the community green spaces and seek out the fairy house sites.

"The idea is a good way to bring people outdoors to explore together," she said. "We hope visitors to the houses will add a personal note or trinket to the houses or decorate the area around the house using rocks, sticks or found objects from nature."

Most of the houses have working doors, Melby said, so visitors can drop a note or other items inside.

Finding the fairy houses won't be easy, Melby said. That's part of the fun.

"They will not be in obvious places ... some will be hidden in rocks, up in trees or tucked in a bush," she said. "Fairies are private."

A story about the local fairy legend has also been developed to go along with the launch of the fairy house project (see accompanying piece). Parents are encouraged to read the story to their children, or have their kids read it, prior to heading out on a fairy house search this summer.

The idea for the fairy house project was first discussed during the winter and the enthusiasm has grown steadily since then, Melby said.

"It has a fantasy aspect to it," she said.

One local couple, Larry and Mania Moore, were so inspired by the idea that they constructed fairy houses for their own front yard.

Four local artists (Mark Lusardi, Connie Evans, Bill Driscoll and Bill Langford) volunteered to construct the first round of fairy houses. Some of their creations were then decorated by members of the Dry Run Go Getters 4-H Club.

Lusardi was an obvious choice to help out with the project. The master potter has had several fairies living near his home for years. He said he and his children have built fairy houses and placed them near their home.

"We are all kind of kids at heart," Lusardi said with a smile. "This encourages imagination."

Driscoll said he loved being part of the project.

"I think this is good for kids," he said. "It's going to be a fun experience for them, searching for the fairy houses."

Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Joe Kerlin and Melby planned to distribute the houses this week.

"We hope to put at least one in every major park in New Richmond and at the Nature Center on County Road A ... a beautiful place many people don't know exists," Melby said.

Kerlin said he's thrilled that the fairy houses will be a new addition to the local parks.

"I think that it's another creative idea, like the monsters in the parks, that will enhance our parks and encourage imagination in the outdoors," he said. "I would like to thank Christine Melby with M&M for including the parks with so many of her projects."

As people get out to search for the fairy houses, Melby and the New Richmond News would like to hear the stories about how people find the houses, how the children respond to them and see pictures of how children have added their personal touches.

Notes and pictures can be sent to or chris