HP Festival back in Chestertown Friday, Saturday
— Muggles everywhere beware, the magic of Harry Potter is coming to town as witches and wizards alike make their way to the fourth annual Chestertown HP Festival Oct. 6 and 7, no brooms, floo powder or a ticket for the Hogwarts express required.
“For me, it’s a special phenomenon that has captivated the imaginations of people. It speaks to so many people,” said Tess Hogans, festival volunteer executive board president.
The festival, which is based on J.K. Rowling’s series of novels on the adventures of Harry Potter, opens at 6 p.m. Friday with a kickoff party at the Garfield Center for the Arts located at 201 High St. There, attendees may participate in a costume contest, which is free for ages 12 and under and $5 for everyone else.
The 200 block of High Street in front of the theater will be closed to traffic from 6 p.m. Friday until the end of the kickoff party. On Saturday, High Street will remain closed to traffic from North Queen Street to Spring Avenue until 8 a.m. Sunday.
Additionally, Memorial Plaza will be closed to traffic Saturday due to vendors and booths set up there.
Events on Saturday begin at 9 a.m. with various activities throughout the town. The festival will come to a close with the new Azkaban Prison Break Party at 7:30 p.m. at the Garfield Center. Tickets for the dance are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
The wizard-themed dance party is for all ages and will extend from the Garfield Center into High Street under a tent. There will be trivia contests and themed games along with a carded cash bar, “Quidditch pong,” food trucks and wizard rock bands.
New this year, in addition to the Prison Break Party, is the Magic Hall of Talking Portraits from 1 to 3:45 p.m. at KidSPOT, 315 High St., Suite 108. This ticketed event will take attendees on an art tour where the paintings speak and move, much like portraits do within the world of Harry Potter. Each tour is 15 minutes long and tickets may be purchased for $5 at www. chestertownriverarts.net.
Also new, the HP Festival is partnering with the Sultana Education Center, which will have free activities for children from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center, which is located at 105 Cross St. There will be afternoon turtle races, which will help determine the winner of the house cup.
Favorites from past festivals also will be going on throughout the town.
A scavenger hunt through the “wizard village of shops” in Chestertown will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Also starting 10 a.m. and running until 5 p.m. will be Quidditch tournaments in Wilmer Park.
“This year there is more activities and kid-friendly stuff to do,” Heather Calloway said. Calloway, archivist and special collections librarian at Washington College, handles the public relations and marketing for the festival. She said there will also be lots of booths and vendors for people to visit as they walk around the town.
There will be various classes straight from Hogwarts including charms class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sultana Education Center and a wandmaker’s co-op from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Defense Against the Dark Arts class will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fountain Park and Radcliffe Creek School Potion Class will be held from 12:30 to 3 p.m. in front of the Garfield Center.
“We try to make it more about Chestertown. We have so many quirky local shops that it’s easy to imagine you’re in a town with witches and wizards,” Hogans said.
Hogans said the aim of the festival is not just to celebrate the phenomenon that is Harry Potter but to promote business and the community in Chestertown and celebrate the arts scene.
Hogans and Calloway agree that the community of Chestertown is what keeps people coming back year after year to the festival.
“It fits the town so well. With our festival, we make it more about Chestertown and the community we have here,” Hogans said. “That’s what sets us apart from other festivals.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www. chestertownhpfest.org.
Washington College student Elizabeth Wilson, left, and her friend Devin Ruth of New Jersey, stop outside of Chestertown Natural Apothecary, regularly known as Chestertown Natural Foods, during last year’s Chestertown HP Festival.
Morgan Ellis of Chestertown holds her son Ari Dawson, who is dressed as a mandrake, during last year’s Chestertown HP Festival kickoff party at the Garfield Center for the Arts. The festival returns for its fourth year Oct. 6 and 7 at various locations in Chestertown.