Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

Weekend in the wilderness… or when smurfs attack


Got back early this afternoon from our annual trek into the Rockies to face paint for two-days at Grizfest and I am really sore and tired.

This is, I think, the seventh or eighth year I’ve painted there… I was just counting on my fingers trying to remember how many years it has been.  This was the tenth year of the festival and I know I didn’t paint the first three so it must be seven years… or was it eight…???

Tumbler Ridge is what is known as a company town… it was built just over 25 years ago to support two coal mines that were operating in the area.  Then the mines shut down… and then one re-opened, oil and gas exploration picked up, dinosaur finds and tourism brought it back to life.  It never died, just got very quiet for a few years.

We look forward to going every year.  The music is great and we certainly hear all of it, all day until we finish and even after we get back to the hotel… it is a very small town and you can hear the festival everywhere!  This year the main acts on Saturday evening were April Wine and Platinum Blonde… Last time I saw Platinum Blonde was at a party in Whistler, B.C. in 198-…er, 1985 or 86… those were the only two acts that I recognized… well, there was one on Sunday, Streetheart, but none of their music was familiar to me, at least what they played during their set.

I am usually slammed at this festival.  Face Painting is sponsored by a local group or business and is free for all kids 12 and under.  So my lines are pretty long… yesterday it was a couple of hours long before I even opened.

They had a new canopy for me this year… a bigger one!  And it was anchored to the goal posts on the soccer pitch.  Which was a VERY GOOD THING!!!  We were able to pull up right beside the goal posts with the RAV positioned as a billboard facing down the midway.

We left home around 9:30 a.m. Saturday and arrived around noon, local time which is an hour behind us… it takes three hours to get there.  We stop in Dawson Creek for a pit stop, and then head into the mountains.

I start face painting at 1 p.m. and end at 6 p.m.  when the kids area activities shut down (this is when the big acts start and the crowd demographic changes drastically.)

Saturday the weather was grey and drizzly… not proper rain but steady showers.  Usually there is some rain (check out previous adventures at Grizfest here!) but the weather generally changes at least 12 times during the day… this year, it stayed the same all day… miserably damp and grey and breezy.  It was okay though as it wasn’t windy enough to blow things around, but it was cold enough to make my hands like ice.  Usually it flips between too hot to tolerate and too wet to paint!

I was amazed at how little clothing some of the kids had on…. maybe they are used to it there.  By the end of the day I was numb with cold.  Mom and Amy were bundled up under blankets, in multiple coats… they even got in the car to get out of the cold, while I sat there painting the masses!

I took my Fast Faces display (seen here) instead of my larger table top unit… cleverly thinking to enable myself to paint more faces by offering the faster designs for viewing… not that the kids are limited to the designs on display, but many think they are…. [insert evil cackle] which was a bit of an issue…

I need to review the names I gave the designs as I am blanking out on a few of them.  There are several similar type of swirly designs that I named… but the names are not helpful to remind me what they are specifically.  So I wing it… haven’t had an issue with painting the wrong one as the kids usually smile really big when I show them the mirror.

But I need to either look at the display when I set it up or rename the ones I can’t remember…  only thing is using properly descriptive names would be cumbersome…  I mean, would you bother asking for “Blue and pink with three long drops in the centre and white swirls on left side with silver bling”  or would you prefer “Blue swirls”?  Thing is there are about six  designs that are very similar that are very much the same description!

And then you get the kids who ask for something different… [sigh]… yes, I got asked for my very first Smurf.  Smurfette to be specific.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate Smurfs???  I hate them.

It all goes back to my early teen years.  My brother Neil loved to terrorize me… he was eight years younger and loved to scare me.  He favourite was getting up early… which wasn’t difficult as I was a teenager and slept in, a lot… so getting up early enough to torture me was easy.  Anyway, he’d get up and go find some poor garter snake or other icky, stinky, or dead, creature (but usually garter snakes) and sneak upstairs to my bedroom… he would poke me so I would wake up and roll over and there, hanging in my face would be a frantic live garter snake, a dead snake, rat, mouse, or, worse yet a small stuffed GRANDPA SMURF!!!!!!!!!!


He would then run, giggling, out of my room and out of the house.  Sometimes he’d leave the snakes…. live garter snakes, live SCARED garter snakes give off noxious fumes, btw, bet you didn’t know that?!

I miss him. Neil, not the snakes.

Anyhoo… I hate Smurfs.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, Smurfette… so, I am asked to paint Smurfette…. she even offered to go get her dad’s smart phone so I would have a reference… I declined the offer. I mean, I DO know what they look like, I just don’t want to look at them!

But she was a nice little girl so I agreed to paint her as Smurfette… she and her friend provided a running description for me so I could get Smurfette’s make-up just right.

So here is the ONLY photo I took all weekend… I figured me painting a Smurf was something I should record for posterity.

Not the greatest thing I’ve ever done, but, considering my phobia not too bad.  She was happy which is the point, so all was good.

At 6 p.m. I shut it down and Amy helped me pack the car up to head over to the hotel to check-in.  This year the hotel’s restaurant was operational so we ate there after unloading the essentials into our room.  It was a non-handicapped room as we needed two beds and their accessible rooms only have one bed.

Yesterday we headed over to the festival site pretty early… the hotel room was boring, and there isn’t much else to do there on a Sunday morning.  I thought I’d just take my sweet time setting up, maybe shop at the other vendors before the gates opened… you know.

What we hadn’t planned on was the wind… the sky was blue with lots of clouds but generally sunny, but the wind… the wind was ripping!  Tents were blown over and tarps torn off, stuff was rolling around the field… and that was just when we arrived!

Our canopy was still where it had been but the wind was literally lifting it up five feet off the ground… the only thing holding it down was that it was actually tied onto the goal posts!  They hadn’t anchored the two posts attached to the goal posts to the ground so they were sliding up and down every time the wind would gust.

I had a roll of carpet tape… so I was able to attach my tablecloth to the table with it.  Worked great!  I will be keeping that  in my kit permanently!  I tried to tie up my “wall” again – it was a tablecloth attached to a rope tied across one-side of the canopy to block access to the booth area but the wind kept ripping it off, so I just left surveyor’s tape tied across instead.

But there was no way to put up my display, nor put out business cards as the wind just took everything!  So I worked without a display at all yesterday… I lost count of the number of people asking where it was, where was my book, etc. And, amazingly, many of the kids were asking for the specific design they wanted by name!  They know the names better than I do! LOL

The wind did not stop… at all… I was freezing and had to get my hoodie, coat and was even tempted to use a blanket!  My hands were frozen, everything is covered in glitter, grass, bugs, and dirt that blew in… I was really tempted to NOT put out the glitter, but, well… you need to use glitter on a lot of things to really make them pop.

After shutting it down and loading the RAV up mom and I headed to the Kakwa Inn as it was her birthday and they make great liver and onions… which mom loves.  I had a clubhouse.  Amy stayed at the festival to watch someone named Fifi Dobson… never heard of them, well, at least not before this weekend.

So, now I have to clean up my palettes… easiest way I know is to hold the palette under a gently running tap for a few seconds… it works.  You need to rotate it quickly and then blot off the excess moisture, then let it air dry overnight.  I haven’t tried this with my Snazaroo Pro-54 though – it may be a bit awkward with all those colours to rinse off.  But I’ll manage… somehow.

We got home and I unloaded the car… and the palette is sitting on the kitchen table.  I think I’m going to have to rinse it off in the shower downstairs with the handheld shower head.

And to close… here is a butterfly from last weekend’s birthday party.

Author: Shannon Fennell

Multidisciplinary artist, world traveller, make-up artist, and cheese lover. I follow a low carb lifestyle to keep my diabetes in remission. Canadian expat in the UK.

2 thoughts on “Weekend in the wilderness… or when smurfs attack

  1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

    FYI – Dawson Creek is not in the show Dawson’s Creek… people always think that. Dawson Creek is a city in the northern part of British Columbia, Canada and is Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway. 😉

  2. So nice to read your story! I had to laugh about the Smurf kid. You did a very good job!! The story behind it, is really funny. You are writing it with a lot of humor, that makes it very nice to read.
    And for me it is so special to hear about Dawson Creek and the mountains. We only know Dawson Creek from the tv and we don’t have mountains in Holland.
    Thank you for the nice story!! And you can now relax from the scary Smurf job! haha LOL
    Lots of Love Brenda van der Weij from Holland

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s