Oakley the GreenMan at the Ohio Paw Paw Festival

The “Green Man,” aka Cliff Spenger, a traveling performer who lives in central New York, returned to the festival after his first Ohio Pawpaw Fest last year. He has four different giant tree-person costumes. This year he appeared on stilts as an oak tree called “Oakley,” with birds and other critters affixed to the latex rubber suit. He got his career start as a tightrope walker and street performer 20 years ago. He taught himself how to create the costumes after being inspired by the “Green Man” of pagan myth, which he called an “ancient archetype” seen in many cultures.
Spenger said he wishes that environmental-focused music and arts festivals like the Pawpaw Fest were more widespread.
“The workshops (on) the environment, on pollinators, that’s a really fantastic thing… Here we have the craft beer, we have the music, and we have these opportunities to learn about growing ginseng, and things like that,” he said.