Fairytale Town in Land Park will debut its first new playset in more than two decades on Saturday, marking the occasion with a celebration.
West African folktales of Anansi the spider inspired the design of the structure. Anansi is described as both a trickster and the “the keeper of all stories and wisdom,” according to a press release from the park.
West Africa is a previously unrepresented geography in the park, said Kathy Fleming, the executive director of Fairytale Town.
The playset has a unique design, featuring three vertical climbing webs, ranging in height from four to eight feet. The webs are strung between four poles, each featuring a character from an Anansi folktale: there’s a leopard, a python, a turtle and a monkey as well as a sculpture of Anansi himself.
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“I think kids really identify with these folktales because Anansi is a small arachnid that’s smart enough and strong enough to get larger animals, like this python and leopard and turtle and monkey to do his bidding,” Fleming said. “Plus the stories are fun — his quick wit and the things that he does really are humorous and amusing.”
The playset, which will be situated on the southern corner of the park beside The Old Woman in the Shoe slide and the sheep at Mary’s Little Lamb, will officially open Sept. 8 with a celebration from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. featuring Fenix Drum and Dance, an African performance troupe, and hands-on arts and crafts activities. The Anansi stories will be performed by the Fairytale Town Troupers and told by a storyteller.
A grant of $100,000 from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission as well as individual donors made the project possible. Fleming said the commission decided to gift the grant because they believed the park “could handle the project and turn it into something that would be used by the community for generations to come.”
Local Sacramento sculptor Garr Ugalde designed the structure. Ugalde is an active member in the local arts community with several public works in the Sacramento area, including three sculptures at American River College.
Ugalde’s proposal was selected out of six proposal submissions by both board and community members.
Fleming said Fairytale Town has a history of working with artists to design the playsets in the park.
“Fairytale town is a place where many children are introduced to all of the arts for the first time, so working with artists and having them be part of this process and introducing children to new stories and different art forms ... is a great tradition that we are proud to continue,” she said.