Pagan Spirit Gathering Moves to Illinois

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 3, 2011 — 16 Comments

Pagan Spirit Gathering, one of America’s oldest and largest outdoor Pagan festivals, has announced that it has moved its base of operations from Missouri to Illinois. This is the festival’s second move since cutting ties in 2009 with Wisteria (and Ohio-based Pagan-friendly campground).

“We are looking forward to having the Pagan Spirit Gathering within a short drive from the greater Chicago area again,” says PSG’s founder Selena Fox.” We haven’t been this close to Chicago since PSG 1983 when our site was on private land along the Rock River. This is the first time that PSG will be in Illinois, and we have been getting very positive responses to the news from Illinois Pagans as well as Pagans from around the country.”

This latest move was triggered when their previous home, Camp Zoe, a campground in Missouri’s Shannon County, was raided by federal and state law enforcement. Camp Zoe currently faces asset forfeiture (in short, the seizing of the land by the federal government), you can read two different perspectives of this situation here, and here. With Camp Zoe’s final fate uncertain, and accusations of the property being maintained for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing or using controlled substances” being thrown around, PSG’s organizers had little choice but to break ties.

“Since learning on November 9th about legal difficulties now connected with the Camp Zoe site in Missouri that we have rented for the past two years, the Pagan Spirit Gathering Executive Committee has begun a search for a new site for PSG 2011. The dates for PSG 2011 remain June 19-26.”

Pagan Spirit Gathering’s new Illinois home will be Stonehouse Park in Earlville, an hour’s drive West of Chicago. The campground prides itself as a friendly host to LARPs and re-enactment groups from “medieval to the modern,” and boasts many modern amenities that should please the less seasoned camper (like myself). Pagans in the upper Midwest already seem enthused at the prospect.

“There are so many perks to the location they may as well call it a Pagan KoA or Jellystone Park ;) I’m still surprised about cell phones and WiFi. Hmmm… they just need a cartoon mascot LOL! Indoor stages, possible cabin rentals with kitchenettes and bathrooms, RV hookups… wow! Even folks who can’t physically handle a traditional fest would be able to attend.  And for me… jeez, why not have it in my own back yard? Off I-39 & I-88? That’s really centrally located for a lot of people, even flights, buses and trains with the shuttle service, *and* far enough away from the Tri-State to keep busy road-leery travelers happy.”

Registration is now open, and they are accepting proposals for workshops, rituals, and other presentations. Having attended last year’s PSG as a presenter, I can tell you that PSG presented some of very best of festival culture and Pagan community. If the money/schedule stars align, I’d love to attend again, and perhaps I can convince many of my Illinois-based friends to come along as well!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Sharon Stewart

    Hi Folks – Thought I'd jump in a bit with some things specific to PSG about the site. Each gathering at any venue has it's own lay-out, guidelines, etc. that we work out with the venue. We're still working on our exact lay-out and probably won't finalize it until spring. There will be some RV electric available in certain areas. Alot of the electric areas will be used by centers, vendors, food vendors, disability camp but we will have some on site available for RV's. There will be areas marked off for camping/parking/centers etc. with the bulk of the camping being in the shade. There most likely won't be camping across the creek if you're looking at a map.

  • Ed Hubbard

    This has been the buzz in Chicago all day. The folks at Pagans Tonight are planning to go out as a group, and for many of us, this is welcomed news. We anticipate that this will be a exciting event.

  • Ursyl

    I'd hold off on the Jellystone label. There actually is a chain of family camp/recreation grounds with that name.LOL

    I never would have thought that until my daughter's scout troop spent a couple of nights at one nearby.

    Sounds wonderful. That might even be a long day's drive from us. I need to look at a map.

  • Nuri

    I am very well acquantied with this campsite and it's owners, in fact, I'm running one of those medieval events in April. Great site, but it is VERY much a work in progress. There are only a few cabins at this point, and the kitchens have not been completed. I'm happy that PSG has moved there, if only because it helps my friends! The more things that get booked there, the more they can get done!

    Cell phones work fine. The Wifi is spotty at best. At least it was in October when I was last there.

    If anyone has questions about the site, I'll be happy to answer. I'm there several times a year for events, and this is my second year running one there. I know the owners, have dealt with them, through good and bad.

    edit: Although, how horrible is it that Stonehouse gets this and I can't go? I'm going to dance workshops near Chicago June 23 instead!

  • Souris Optique

    Spotty Wifi sounds like a plus. My local festival site got Wifi and now every festival is rife with people on facebook and carting all their outside stress and drama in with them. :/

  • Lori Dake

    Very cool! I saw the photos and thought your LARP looked like a lot of fun. :) I'm sure many people have questions for you.

    Me, I'm mostly wondering about the creek that appears to cut off that one section on the lower east side from the main area in the south center. Is there a foot bridge or something that connects the two areas? I ask, because it seems like a nice spot to set up camp, though I wonder how much of a PITA it would be to set up there, and whether or not loading and unloading would be permissible via that side gate entrance. (I guess PSG would have that last bit of info.)

  • Vic Wright

    I have attended the Pagan Spirit Gathering aka PSG for 11 years now. I am thrilled that a new location has been found and we are once again gearing up for this amazing event.

    PSG is a week long family reunion. Everyone who comes is either long time family or new family we have just met. It is a magical week filled with fun, laughter, workshops, music, rites of passage and amazing rituals. Those of you who have never attended, if you can imagine a Pagan amusement park (sans the rides unless you count the shuttle), you may get a general idea of the feelings of wonder that come with that first trip. The presenters are all top notch, very down to earth and happy to talk with everyone. Musical guests at the gathering are the best around and have included in the past, Coyote Run (You guys Rock!!), Arthur Hinds, T. Thorn Coyle, Damh the Bard, Craig Olsen, Bella Wycke, Spiral Rhythm, Celia, Skinny White Chick, Incus, Heather Jinmaku and tons more. There are usually concerts at least twice a day and they are always awesome! When it comes to workshops, there are so many sometimes it is hard to choose! Last year I finally got to meet Jason, the Wild Hunt has new meaning having had a moment to meet him personally. Thanks Jason! There are lots of great merchants as well offering all types of wares that are everything from fun and lighthearted to ritual items. You can finds candles, incense, crystals and minerals, jewelry, clothing and lots more. There are activities scheduled for children nearly all day and you don't want to miss the fairy play!

    I am excited about our move to Stonehouse Park in northern Illinois this year. Change is always challenging but is necessary for growth. I am looking forward to seeing the family that I already know and meeting new family.

    I hope to see you there! BB Vic

  • Lori Dake

    I said Jellystone and KoA (Kampgrounds of America) in jest, that the new location is much more modern family-oriented than most Pagan fests (very primitive). So yes, the kids and Pagan-friendly GamGams would probably be much more comfortable here than at a place with compost privvies and no way to watch a DVD during a downpour. I have no problem with going completely dry, but I will favor modern luxuries if they're made available. That is especially true when there really is no such thing as a payphone anymore, and PSG doesn't have in and out privileges.

    I'm very excited about the new location, and not just because it may as well be in my back yard. Being able to check in with the fam via cellphone is important to me, to let them know I, and our car, arrived safely. (She's 14 years old now but still going strong, thanks to very regular maintenance). And, with a place to charge up the phone, the fam and the day job can get a hold of me if needed. (Payroll questions always tend to surface while we're out playing, and I would hate to hear someone wasn't paid correctly during the busy season.)

  • Lori Dake

    Yeah, I'm planning on going. How could I not? Even if all I can muster is the last Friday and Saturday, I'm dragging out my stuff from the closet and Tetris-izing my car for maximum capacity. Ron says he doesn't know how I'm going to fit *myself* in there, but we've done more with less. Just have to suck it in and think thin!

    Now I need to locate the grocery and liquor stores. I'm guessing they do Kroger and Wally World out that way. Meh, I'll find something along I-55 if anything I'm sure, though I'm guaranteed to find the Good Stuff at Binny's in town. I-355 by Bolingbrook has everything (that Bass Pro Shops is AWESOME, and Ikea is across the street), so that wouldn't be too much further, and I keep meaning to stop in that Camping World store as well.

  • Nuri

    I'm trying to remember that exact spot, and the website is being …slow. If our minds are lining up, I believe they have put in a new foot bridge in that spot after the old one collapsed. There is a small spot for a campsite there. If you give me the coordinate space from the map, I'll double check with my husband, who gets back that way more. Visually minded, I am not!

    I usually camp inside the circle road, where there is electric hookups and water that is usually potable. Gregg will let your coordinators know if it isn't. I like it right there, a few really nice trees for shade, and for my purposes, right in the middle of everything. Since I usually run registration ends of things, I like to be near the entrances.

    Side entrances are a crapshoot. Sometimes we can use them, sometimes not. Depends on conditions, what's being done a the site, and who is there that day.

    Oh, there is a walmart less than 45 minutes out, and a liquor store on the way there. I can never remember the name of it, as the lettering for the place is in ROPE of all things, and I don't read rope that well. Good selection, decent price.

  • Lori Dake

    Thanks so much! I'm sure I'm not the only person that's going to be pumping you for info ;)

  • Whitney

    Man this sounds like so much fun i wish i could go but work wont let me. we have to work all but the weekends and getting to chicago isn't easy for me either. oh well, i'll try again next year lol.

  • Christian Day

    RV Hookups sold me! I've been meaning to go but there's just no way I'm doing one of these things without a barbie dream van. :-D

  • Christian Day

    Time for one of these. LOL

  • Sharon Stewart

    WiFi will only be available in a couple of locations at best at the camp and not very many people can be on at the same time. And our history thus far has shown that only the folks that really need it for business/family get on it much – there is just too much to do at PSG! There will only be one in/out gate available for our use at PSG – the rest will be blocked off for use. Please keep an eye on our website – we'll add updates there as we get things worked out! Hope to see many of you there! Blessings, MoonFeather PSG Mgr.

  • Nuri

    I certainly didn't mean to step on any toes. Anything I say should defer to y'all. I know my events and the site pretty well, but you guys will have your own contract and layout with Stonehouse.

    I don't know if any of your are more local to the area, but if you'd like help with things like whats nearby and such, I'd be happy to help out. We're putting together our next event too, and some of the information should be similar enough to save a little time. We normally have a short guide with things like nearest walmart, liquer store, hospital, gas station, good resturants and such.