A Sojourn in the Enchanted Forest

Categories: SXSW

So my dad hooked up with his network of old hippie buddies, and Armadillo World Headquarters poster artist Jim Franklin turned him on to this place called The Enchanted Forest. Dad went over there on Wednesday night and was thunderstruck by it. So much so that he difficulty explaining what is was. "It's five acres of folk art...flames are everywhere, people sleeping in tents, everybody smoking pot. You have to bring your own beer."

So on Saturday night, around ten, just when I had about overdosed on South By, we headed out there. We parked at a Home Depot on South Congress at Oltorf, and walked across the street into what looked like a mere roadhouse. Once past the parking lot, we picked up a trail through some scraggly woods. Here and there, artists had laid out there wares, and about a hundred yards back in the woods, we stopped and bought tickets and headed deeper in to the forest.

Over a rickety footbridge and we came to the stage. A band of psychedelic San Franciscans in weird facepaint were playing on the stage while a dancer spun multicolored hula hoops in dizzying patterns. A ten foot iron pyramid periodically erupted jets of flame, while disco ball mirror lights danced through a grove of live oaks like fairies.

Further in the woods, another man put on a three-flamethrower performance piece that was something like a propane-based fireworks display. You had the feeling that maybe this guy had not gotten all his permits, and that this was vastly illegal and certainly ininsurable.

So yeah, I'm having as much trouble explaining what the Enchanted Forest is as my dad did. Maybe Austin's version of Burning Man with a dash of Cirque du Soleil. Brad Tyer joined us there, and he put it like this: "Hippies need malls too."

And it will vanish later today -- after SXSW it will return to disused railway right of way land. -- John Nova Lomax

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