In a PNC exclusive, Pagan Spirit Gathering, one of the largest and oldest Pagan camping festivals, announces its ‘new’ location this year. The site used for the last two years, Stonehouse Park, near Earlville, Illinois came under fire by local residents for loud music festivals and illegal activities. None of the complaints or arrests have occurred during PSG. Stonehouse Park was then listed on a sheriff’s sale in June of 2012. This prompted speculation that Circle Sanctuary, hosts of Pagan Spirit Gathering, would need to move the festival for the third time in five years. That speculation was put to rest today when Circle Sanctuary announced Pagan Spirit Gathering 2013 will be held at Stonehouse Farm. Same location as 2011 and 2012, just a new name and under new ownership.
The sale of Stonehouse Park to its new owner, Daren Friesen, with its accompanying change of name to Stonehouse Farm, was finalized last Wednesday. A temporary special-use permit, solely for holding PSG, was granted on Thursday, and Friesen is going through the process of securing zoning for long-term use. Friesen attended PSG in 2012 and is the owner of several yoga studios in the area.
This is not the first time PSG faced uncertainty due to drug charges at a campground by other events not related to PSG. In 2009, PSG moved to Camp Zoe in Missouri. In November of 2010 Camp Zoe was shut down by federal authorities after a four-year-long investigation allegedly uncovered rampant drug use and sales on the property. In 2011, PSG moved to Stonehouse Park. Then in April of 2012 Stonehouse Park underwent increased scrutiny by area residents, law enforcement, and the DeKalb County Board.
Concerns voiced by community members and law enforcement included loud music late at night, underage drinking, and arrests at two events in 2011 where witnesses say multiple people were selling and smoking marijuana. Park owners improved procedures at the park and barred the groups responsible from Stonehouse Park. With only weeks until PSG was set to open, the question of if Stonehouse Park would be able to host festivals or would be shut down was still up in the air as the park’s Special Use Permit, needed to host festivals, was recommended to be revoked.
In May of 2012 PSG’s Sharon Stewart worked closely with Stonehouse Park, county officials and park neighbors to seek a solution allowing PSG to be held as scheduled. Stonehouse Park was granted an amended special use permit, but the approval came with eleven new conditions and contingencies from the hearing officer and health department and board members warned owners that a single violation could lead to a revocation.
Stewart says that the permit passed in part thanks to local Pagan Spirit Gathering attendees speaking out. ”During the meetings I attended it became abundantly clear we needed local Pagans involved. John Dickerman, our Sacred Fire Keeper, Barbara Andree and Ana Bledschmidt with the Crone Temple of Wisdom, and Jim Bledschmidt who will be working with the Sages at PSG this summer came on board and their work was invaluable in this. Then at the meeting last night, my assistant Brian Sather and another local PSG’ers Shawn Skau and John’s wife Caroline were there in support.”
PSG2012 happened as scheduled at Stonehouse Park and boasted record attendance even with the uncertainty regarding the location. Now that the location for PSG2013 is formally secured, registration is open.
Below is the full Press Release from Circle Sanctuary:
Barneveld, WI – Circle Sanctuary announced today the opening of registration for Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), to be held on from June 16th – 23rd at Stonehouse Farm Campground in Earlville, Illinois.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be holding PSG at Stonehouse Farm,” said Sharon, PSG coordinator. “This will be our third PSG at this location, and we are excited to work with the new owners of the property to make this event a success and to grow PSG.”
Held the week of the Summer Solstice since 1980, PSG is one of the largest and oldest Nature Spirituality festivals in the United States. Participants come from across the country and internationally to form a joyful and supportive community.
“Our goal for PSG has always been to create a community where like-minded people can meet one another, learn, and develop tools and ideas that they can take home with them to deepen their spirituality in the year to come,” said Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary’s
founder and Executive Director. “This year our theme is ‘Connections’ and we hope to incorporate many ways for participants to connect with Community, connect with the Land and connect with the Divine!”
Throughout the Gathering, there are hundreds of program activities including rituals, concerts, workshops, panels, meetings, intensives, revels, dancing, drumming, firespinning, and bonfires. There are also a variety of youth program activities including specific programming for children, tweens, and teens. In addition, there is leadership training for Pagan ministers and other leaders through the Pagan Leadership Institute. Applications for programming and merchanting are now being accepted at www.circlesanctuary.org/psg.