Image: The Fairy Factory’s Max Iffland with one of his kewpie dolls at Ekka 2013. Credit: Ursula Skjonnemand.
Max Iffland has been selling kewpie dolls at regional shows for 35 years and loves to hear customers’ nostalgic stories.
“People who come to us and talk to us about them have really serious collections, they’ve got hundreds of dolls,” says Max.
“You get all the stories, you know, their visits to the show when they were kids going back 70, 80 years.”
Max’s business, The Fairy Factory is a full-time, year-round operation taking him from the Country Music Festival in Tamworth to Canberra, around New South Wales, overseas to Jakarta, Indonesia and back to Brisbane for the Ekka before he finishes the year with the Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth shows.
Max says he has filled the void that was left when carnies (carnival workers) stopped making the kewpie dolls.
“It used to be that the wives made the dolls and the husbands looked after the games and things, but the games and rides have now become multi-million dollar businesses and the wives tend to be doing the books rather than making the dolls so that’s how it’s evolved,” says Max.
He and his crew make the dolls by hand with materials they source each year after the Jakarta festival.
“They’re now much more elaborate than they used to be because we have much better materials to work with,” he says.
You’ll find Max and his kewpie dolls on Main Parade near the Fresh Food Pavilion.
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