Sheriffs, clowns, and mushrooms: a unique playground

For 40 years many generations of children have had fun in the woods near Stämningsgården. An opportunity to run free and let their imaginations run wild. But the man who created this world of sheriffs, clowns, mushrooms and quirky little houses is reticent about its future. "It's a secret," says Stefan Markström.

Meja, 3 år, har rätt ålder inne för att hoppa.

Meja, 3 år, har rätt ålder inne för att hoppa.

Foto: Marie Lindström

Nyheter2023-08-05 09:48

– Welcome, you are the ones who bring the sun, Stefan Markström says to a family of children who smile broadly even as the rain pours down on a cold summer day. For 40 years now, he has been welcoming children and adults to his world of dreams.

- I've met families who are now in their third generation. Those who were here as children now have children and grandchildren.

It was late one night in 1983 when Stefan was driving home and at his father-in-law's property he braked hard and got out of the car. His father-in-law had complained that it was difficult to mow the lawn here, and suddenly he had an idea.

Stefan Markström stands in front of the train station he built.

– I'll build a miniature country, he thought. I don't know where it came from, but I get so many ideas.

Since his job as a mailman ended early in the morning, he had time to build, and over the years a fantasy creation took shape in the forest. A whole western town, huge mushrooms, huts and cabins. Stefan had help, but he built thirty barns himself. He has also played almost all the roles in the dramas that sometimes occur in the park.

–  He escapes, he escapes. Don't you have eyes in the back of your head? Catch the villain!

With the help of the children, the sheriff leads a wild chase of a bearded villain through the park. Once caught, the villain goes to jail with the help of the children. Afterwards, it rains candy to thank the children for their help. Seventy kilos of caramel are usually consumed in one season.

Because the engineer was stuck in the nostalgia barn, the train arrives at the station a little late.

In the nostalgia barn, Stefan shows off various memorabilia and newspaper clippings he has collected over the years. A lot has happened over the four decades. 

With so many memories and stories, could he write a book?

– I don't have the energy to sit down and write my story. Besides, I refuse to use computers.

Now it's 1:30 pm and the train is about to leave the station, but who's driving? Stefan, of course.

– I usually brag that my train is the only one that runs on time, and now I have been delayed.

The train makes its way through the winding paths of the park, and suddenly a clown appears and unsuspectingly squirts the passengers with a water gun. Everyone laughs heartily except little Meja, 3 years old, who finds the whole thing a little uncomfortable. Then the clown lifts his wig to show that he is a normal person, and Meja can dry her tears.

Admission prices in 1983.

Have the children changed in the last 40 years?

– No, they have not changed. They have a tremendous imagination. But adults have changed. I used to get a lot of help from pensioners who wanted a little extra work. That's not the case any more.

Many visitors say that this place, that is one man's life's work, needs to survive.

What about the future?

–The last few years I have been thinking - God, I have worked hard. But I don't think of it as hard, just fun. Except in the off-season when there is a lot to repair and fix. It takes time, but it's not because I'm old. It's because I'm more careful now, Stefan says with a mischievous smile.

This was painted by a 16 year old called Cecilia in 1989. Since then it was stored in a cellar until it was unearthed this year. Stefan would like to know what happened to her if anyone knows.

Even though Stefan is still running around with the energy of a young man, there are thoughts about what will happen to Lilleputtlandet when he is no longer able to manage it. Ideally, he would like the community to take it over and run it. He has a little plan, but it's a secret.

There seems to be an inexhaustible source of stories about Lilleputtlandet, but now Stefan has to go and change into a gold miner.

Ett bra sätt att få barn i rörelse.
Ett bra sätt att få barn i rörelse.