Kids get ‘a little bit of fantasy” with troll hunt

Maria Buechler of Jasper, 7, raises the troll she found at the Great Troll Hunt at the Rosenvolk German Medieval Festival at 18th Street Park in Ferdinand on Sunday. Nic Antaya/The Herald


FERDINAND — Shortly before an armor-pounding jousting match on Sunday, onlookers at the annual Rosenvolk German Medieval Festival were informed of a startling turn of events. 18th Street Park, the locale of the fest, had been overrun by 100 tiny trolls.

“The trolls are trying to overtake this festival,” jousting announcer Shane Adams cautiously told the crowd. “The trolls are trying to overtake this park. And we need more trollhunters to be able to round up all these silly, ugly little creatures.”

That may have been a little harsh. The trolls hiding in Ferdinand were adorable.

See a gallery of photos from the Rosenvolk German Medievel Festival here.

Kids between the ages of 5 and 13 enlisted to capture the dwarves in the fest’s first-ever troll hunt. The Easter egg scavenger hunt-style activity tasked the young ones with scouring the park grounds in search of little handmade trolls — an activity that was as much about fun as it was about promoting German heritage.

“Trolls are very Scandinavian, and there was a lot of Scandinavian influence in Northern Germany, so we thought it would be great to put a little bit of fantasy in for the little kids,” said Aubrie Waninger, the activity organizer and troll maker.

Each troll was small enough to fit in the finder’s hand. They had unique, wooden bases that were wrapped in fake leather. The trolls were outfitted with long beards, and featured individualized noses of various sizes and colors. They also wore hats made of felt that were stuffed and decorated with shoestrings and tiny gems.

Waninger and a couple of other volunteers designed and created all the trolls. They were hidden across the 18th Street Park grounds at bases of trees, between hay bales, around performance stages, at the bases of vendor tents and so on.

Participants were allowed to keep their trolls, and could take them to a tent where they could have their picture taken with a bogle or fairy, and directly interact with the in-character storytellers. Waninger said the hope was to build a sense of connection between the kids and those stories.

Festival co-founder Catherine LeBlanc supported the troll hunt, and praised the work volunteers put it in to make it a reality. She said it lived up to the Rosenvolk’s mission, which is to teach in a fun and interactive way.

“I want them (the kids) to feel more connected to history, even if it’s a little piece of storytelling, fantasy history,” Waninger said.

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