Second annual Hobbits and Elves retreat held at Windy Goat Acres

T-R PHOTO BY MICHAEL D. DAVIS  - Some elven warriors walk the grounds during the second annual Hobbits and Elves Retreat at Windy Goat Acres near Chelsea on Saturday, June 15.

CHELSEA — You stand in the shade of a tree. Mountains of rolling green hills fill the land as far as the eye can see. Then you hear it. A deep humming harmony. It’s music. “Far over the misty mountains cold.” It is the singing of dwarves from their ancient homes deep within the mountains. “To dungeons deep and caverns old.” Do you know where you are? You’re in Middle Earth.

Then, a six-foot man dressed like a dwarf in full body armor with an ax strapped to his side walks by eating a hot dog. So, it may not be exactly the Middle Earth Tolkien pictured in his head, but it is the Middle Earth that Jessica Kettler and Jim Carney, the owners of Windy Goat Acres in Chelsea, dreamed about for the second annual Hobbits and Elves retreat held on Saturday, June 15. The ears were pointed, the hair was braided, and the feet were hairy.

People from far and wide flooded Tama County simply to get a taste of Middle Earth.

“It’s interesting how it comes together. It just feels like the right people gravitate towards this,” Kettler said.

Some walked around in award-winning costumes that were specific to obscure characters mentioned in only a few lines from the books or seen in only the briefest of scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies; while others went with the more generic hobbit vibe. No matter the hobbit, orc, or wizard, all looked ready to blow the roof off of Rivendell.

This year’s retreat has grown immensely since it first began last year.

“It’s pretty exciting because we’ve taken, I think, a step In the right direction in terms of its growth,” Kettler said.

More vendors, more activities, and more people. When you first walked into the event you were greeted with multiple wonderful refreshment stands and trucks. Whether you needed a coffee pick-me-up to trek through the shire or wanted a hot dog to gnaw on while you headed over to Mordor, they had it. And for those hobbits and elves over 21, one of the newest editions to the retreat was the bar, where you could get some mead or drinks like the Sweet as the Shire Hard Honey Lemonade.

“We have more vendors, more people are asking to be a part of it, instead of me reaching out. So, I feel like that’s exciting, it feels like we’re doing something good,” Kettler said.

Venturing through Windy Goat’s makeshift Middle Earth, you’d pass axes being thrown, wizards casting spells, and, if you were lucky, Gollum himself. The tricky little hobbit traveled all over, lurking behind bushes, joining in on the dancing, all while carrying his lunch, an oversized fish, around with him.

If you had something to do this weekend, if you couldn’t get out of that family vacation to the lake or the weekend shift at the job to come on a quest, well, you can always come to the Faery Retreat on Aug. 24 and 25, when Windy Goat Acres will be home to gnomes, pixies, and nymphs. Fun will be had, and wings will be worn.

Knights sparred, hobbits danced, wizards cast spells, and games were played. Trimble the Troubadour serenaded the day, and Uncle Stinky made wands from scratch. This retreat would have made J.R.R. jump with joy.


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