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Check out the submissions in the Cookstown 'Fairy Trail' contest

The idea behind the Fairy Trail contest was to get residents outside, lift spirits and encourage local shopping

The Cookstown & District Chamber of Commerce recently held a contest called ‘Cookstown Fairy Trail’, encouraging residents and local business owners to create tiny fairy homes and display them on their properties or storefronts for a chance to win prizes.

The contest ran the first week of June with an entry submission deadline of June 11. All participants paid a $5 registration fee and addresses of all the ‘fairy homes’ were uploaded onto a map on the Cookstown Chamber’s website.

Tabitha Kowalski, communications coordinator with Cookstown & District Chamber of Commerce, came up with the idea from her side-gig, 'TabCreates' where she makes and sells starter ‘Fairy Kits’ for children.

“It’s been pretty sad we couldn’t do our usual events last year, and now again this year,” laments Kowalski, noting the cancellation of Cookstown’s bigger events like the annual ‘Wing Ding’. “[So], we created the ‘Fairy Trail’ to say, ‘we’re still doing something’… for morale boost!”

Kowalski didn't know if the idea would peak anyone’s interest, but was pleasantly surprised when pictures started to pour in from locals who had created miniature fairy villages in their gardens. 

“We launched [the contest] just a month ago and it’s been crazy!” she shares, adding that the chamber received over 20 submissions.

Kowalski wanted to continue the ‘buzz’ around the Fairy Trail contest, so she dressed up as a fairy herself and did some promotional pictures for social media, branding herself as the ‘Cookstown Fairy’.

“It was a really great pick up,” says the ‘Cookstown Fairy’. “We had a huge range of entries – from kids to retirees - some working with stained glass, some made of steel, some of paper. It was a great response and we will do this annually now.”

Many local businesses donated prizes for the contest, exceeding the number of entries, and all were collected and organized by Debbie McIlwee, owner of the Mad Hatter's Table. Prizes ranged from gift baskets with assorted items such as soaps and candles, accessories and apparel for both adults and children, and over 25 different gift cards ranging from $75-$150 in value.

The biggest prize up for grabs is a voucher for a photo session including hair and make-up, valued at $350, donated by local photographer Trish Beesley who is also the president of the Cookstown & District Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve lost a lot of things in this community,” notes McIlwee, referencing the town’s Light Up the Night event, Wing-Ding, and the Santa Claus parade. “Everything that identified the town has been lost because it’s been so long since we were allowed to do anything… so I find with this contest, people are really getting into it. People are walking around, seeing the fairy houses and asking, ‘what is this?’ It’s starting to perk up the town... it’s actually breathed a bit of life into the town again!”

The ‘Fairy Trail’ not only encouraged residents to get out and walk around to view the fairy homes, but also stimulated more retail shopping within the community.

“It’s particularly great because it also gets the kids involved, and the kids have been neglected for a year – sit in the house and do school online, stay away from their friends – to give them an outlet for their energies is really, really good,” notes McIlwee.

Judges will be making their ‘rounds’ early this week to judge all the fairy house entries, and winners will be announced later in the week.

The Fairy Trail map will remain public for those who wish to visit the various addresses posted, and residents are encouraged to post any pictures on social media while using the hashtag #ourcookstown to be entered to win ‘random draw’s for extra prizes collected – prizes for simply sharing on social media can include gift cards valued up to $75.

“The fairy houses will be up until the owners remove them, but I am suggesting those who would like to view the trail to visit between now and the 21st (June).” shares Kowalski.

Cookstown & District Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all everyone who submitted their ‘Fairy’ entries, and would also like to thank its sponsors for the event’s prizes: A&W, Cookstown Treasurer, Trish Beesley Photography, Mad Hatter's Table, Halliday House, Cookstown Dental Gift Basket, Innisfil Historical Society, A Beautiful Thing, Laceby Realesate, Lynn Dolin (Mayor), Lynda Thompson, Century 21, TabCreates, Lavita Living, and the Cookstown Antique Market.

To start your own fairy house or village, visit:

Stay tuned for the announcement of all winners on the Cookstown & District Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.