There are still a few months left before swimsuit season hits. But for the Minnesota MerFolk, it’s tail season all year round (and they don’t have to worry about the pale legs).
The MerFolk are a group of individuals who enjoy living as mermaids, right down to the tails. They have meetups, picnics, and even do charity work. They also happen to wear massive tails that can cost thousands of dollars.
Jennevieve Evers, the group founder, has been dreaming of becoming a mermaid since she was a kid.
“The first time I saw The Little Mermaid, I was hooked,” she says, dropping a pretty good pun in the process. “I don’t know if my love of water or mermaids came first, but they have been irrevocably entwined for as long as I can remember.”
In high school, Evers learned about clubs in New York that hired mermaids to swim around in tanks, as well as the Weeki Wachee Mermaids in Florida, who allow visitors of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park the opportunity to go under the sea with mermaids 365 days a year.
“I realized that there are opportunities for those courageous enough to pursue them,” Evers says.
Evers decided to start the Minnesota MerFolk in 2018, as a place to unite like-minded mer-friends looking to make connections, while also focusing on their safety.
“I wanted a place for those of us with this passion for this community to safely share in our mutual hobby,” she says. “Safety in numbers is so important, especially for a merfolk swimming alone in a public pool. If you are not a skilled swimmer, tail swimming has the potential to be dangerous. Or children may get too excited and overwhelm you.”
Today the group has approximately 75 members on Facebook, though she says that roughly half of those are active.
“Minnesota MerFolk is a way for those of us who want to swim or want to make a living with our tails to do so in a safer environment while also devoting our time to conservation awareness,” she says.
The group ranges in age from teens to people over 40, though Evers says the majority of the group is in their mid-20s to mid-30s. While the group is almost all female, it welcomes all, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or background. This is why they choose to go by “MerFolk” rather than mermaids and mermen.
It's not all games, though. Some MerFolk are putting their tails to work in order to make some extra clams (we’re so sorry for that play on words). If you’ve visited SeaQuest in Rosedale Mall recently, chances are you’ve encountered a MerFolk in person, perched in their shell for photo ops, face painting, or just casual conversation with two-legged visitors. Additionally, Evers says, she and her fellow MerFolk are looking at expand in other ways, too.
“We are in the process of setting up Landlocked Mers, an event business for the Midwest states that will be a one-stop shop for people looking to set up a MerFolk-themed party,” she explains. “Whether it’s for themselves or their kids or adults or whoever, we will have both land and water events. We’ll work with you to set you up with what you need for a successful MerFolk attendance at whatever function you would like to host.”
For now, Evers and the MerFolk are focused less on the business side of the pond, and more on the fun and conservation aspects of mer-life.
“We have just adopted a highway in Plymouth to clean up twice a year as a pod, and one of the questions that must be answered before being allowed into our pod is: ‘Do you promise to love, support, and uplift your podmates as well as keeping the Earth as clean and awesome as possible?’ We are branded as eco-warriors.”
For Evers, mermaiding is about much more than the fancy tail.
“It's magical and brings smiles to children and adults alike,” she says. “The world can be a scary and dark place. This is a way I feel I can help the Earth, help my fellow people, and help myself with my happiness.”