Inside the ‘weird and witchy’ experience of NJ’s Lunar Faire

Lunar Faire, a traveling night market, returns for its second season this Friday, April 1 in Augusta (Sussex County).

The flute wizard is liable to flute you at the Lunar Faire in Sussex County this weekend. Trust that that makes perfect sense in the context of Lunar Faire, a traveling New Jersey night market with metaphysical rituals, unique vendors, potions, group spellmaking, fire dancing, music and many more things that fall into the category of “whimsical fun.”

“I didn’t want to pigeonhole into any specific thing,” says Tiffany Casey, who, with Kelly Dagion, founded the fair and launched the first edition last year. “We just went with ‘weird and witchy.’ I thought witchy was good because I had been reading tarot for 20 years, and there’s not a lot of that shit out there.

“We just want to make it a place for anyone to feel comfortable… except racists.”

Credit: Julian Leshay

Casey says the idea for the fair came after seeing an Instagram photo of a vendor tent with lights around it. Casey thought, “Oh my god, a night market; that would be so cute. Literally, that’s all that was.”

Casey had little experience in event planning but after sitting on the idea for a bit the idea was undeniable: “Finally, I was like, fine. After COVID, maybe people would want to do this and it won’t murder them, and that would be cool.”

Casey and Dagion scoped out a location in Oakland (NJ)—Crystal Lake Beach Club—where they had seen a Grateful Dead event and planned to hold the inaugural Lunar Faire there. Unsure of how the idea would play out in real life, Casey recalls asking the event coordinator there, “How many vendors do you think [should be] our bare minimum to try to get, so it does look like just a couple vendors. She was like, ’10 or 15.’ We were like, ‘Uh ok, I think we can scare up that many.’”

Tara Gavin from Metal and Marrow at Lunar Faire. Credit: Julian Leshay

By all accounts, the event was a smashing success—they had booked enough performers, ticket giveaways upped the turnout, vendors starting piling in. Eventually 600 people or so experienced this unique event. So they committed to a bi-monthly schedule, coordinating with new and full moons, and providing a space for their community to grow.

“It’s just something you can look forward to that’s reliable: ‘I can go to this place every two weeks. The capitalism outside is not what I need to deal with every single second of every day,’” Casey says.

Undeniably, the whole construct of the fair caters to people who already have at least a passing interest in a wide range of areas from metaphysics to astrology to holistic healing, to, simply, the unusual. But, as Casey alluded to, the hope is that everyone who comes, regardless of why they did, has a unique, pleasant experience. 

Credit: Faye Murman

Explains the Faire’s website FAQ (which is worth a read on its own because it’s funny): “The feud between witches and normies has all been a hilarious misunderstanding. You can get as close to the bonfire as you want. If you can’t let it go, though, feel free to take a diagnostic reading on the weird-o-meter. I feel like you might register higher than anticipated.”

That’s the thing, you can have fun at a Renaissance Fair, a football game, Comic-Con, a boat parade (eh, maybe not), without prerequisite interests. You might even find new things to like. Or, at least experience something different. Isn’t that the whole point of all this living shit anyway?

“The Lunar Queene does set the energy for the whole location and does protection spells,” Casey says. “There’s a lunification smoke cleanse you can take to cleanse your aura. It makes you feel good. I think these little details are what improves the energy; a lot of people say they enjoy being there. … We’ve gotten compliments from cops that our crowds are super nice. People are going to find their people, find their trinkets they want in their life. That’s one of the reasons why I thought it was important to do it every two weeks. “

The Lunar Queene does live spell work “relevant to the astrology of the moment,” Casey says. The event on April 1 falls during an Aries new moon, and so the spellwork will revolve around “stepping into your power” and “spring cleaning,” certainly in a spiritual context.

Lindsay Kramer from OMG Tarot at Lunar Faire. Credit: Julian Leshay

And as the fair grows in popularity, so do the stories of the community within it. For instance, two vendors whose Coney Island wedding got axed by COVID are now planning to get married at a Lunar Faire around Halloween weekend, after, first, participating in a pagan ceremony where they profess their dedication to one another, and after a period of time seeing if that’s actually what they want to do, get married. 

It’s a fun, unique thing—not only that side story, but the fair itself, the community and what it represents. It’s family-friendly, too; though, Casey says, the experience is unsterilized. Kids might see someone drinking a bag of fake blood, for instance, and parents ought to be cool with that.

It’s also somewhat of a family endeavor. The flute wizard mentioned above? That’s Casey’s dad. Casey’s mom is a reiki practitioner, an energy-based alternative healing procedure. Casey’s sister, Krissy Hines, runs the potions bar, and helps manage the fair. (Everything, including the potions, is non-alcoholic at the fair, by the way.)

Too, the vendors themselves are a draw; after all, the original vision was a night market. You’ll be able to get “oddball wares, curious crafts, intuitive services, esoteric arts and more.” Vendors, too, buy into the communal aspects of the fair:

“We really just try to promote goodness,” Casey says. “Our contract is very silly, it’s like, help each other out and that sort of thing. Vendors will, if you don’t know how to put your tent together for the first time, they’ll help you. It’s just that kind of vibe. We think it’s important for them to honor that.”

In our eyes, whatever you’re doing on Friday night is probably not as cool as this. And if you can’t make it to Augusta on April 1, check back with Lunar Faire to see the next scheduled events.

Buy tickets for the April 1 Lunar Faire here.