Peter Pan would have been at home at Wolf Trap over the weekend, as that forest clearing bloomed with small children - more than 10,000, if you count the grown-ups, who were all but invisible amid the young ones who wandered, watched, and wandered again among the 10 ongoing shows at the International Children's Festival.
"International" because the Fairfax Council of the Arts invited folk artists from 12 countries among the hundred-odd singers, dancers, musicians, actors, mimes, gymnasts and magicians who performed in the annual three-day event, which ends today.
Children were everywhere - watching the shows, watching their parents unpack picnic lunches, watching grown-ups who were not their parents. They were even on stage. Many of the performers were young, including school-aged dance groups, as well as the Oak View Elementary School Exhibitional Activities Club, which filled the small stage of the Concert Shell with criss-crossing unicycles, and did not fall off. The large audience on the grass smiled and clapped their hands energetically.
The Theatre-in-the-Woods was packed on Saturday for a performance of "Jack and the Beanstalk" with an adult cast opening several marionettes and, as the ill-tempered giant, a young man in a lumberjack shirt who's "Fe-fi-fo-fum" seemed to frighten everyone. Meanwhile on the stage of the Showmobile, a bearded man played guitar and sang to a smaller audience: "Never put your sister in a frying pan."
In a tent of crafts exhibits, there was a man who carved duck-hunting decoys, sang with puppet-makers and potters.
And there were magicians - The Great ROLENNI and Jon the Great, as well as Myklar the Ordinary, and Christian the Magician.
Several hundred children streamed to the Concert Shell to hear Christian, an amiable man in a ruffled white shirt and black pants, who told them, "When they invited me to perform here, they asked me to do something kind of corny - they asked me to pull a rabbit out of hat. Do you really want me to do that?"
They did. Christian filled his top hat with magic confetti and - after missing the mark with an egg, a few colored handkerchiefs and a glass of milk - came up with a bunny. Christian got a standing ovation and then, a moment later, stood amid a swarm of children eager to pet the rabbit, who remained professionally circumspect amid the tangle of small hands.
"How did you get the rabbit out of the hat?" asked a young voice, and the magician answered, "That's the magic part."