Wiz­ards take over Ch­ester­town for HP Festival

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By DO­RIAN MITCHELL dmitchell@thekent­coun­tynews.com

— Spells were cast, po­tions were brewed, de­men­tors were de­feated and many a glass of but­ter­beer was raised dur­ing the fourth an­nual Ch­ester­town HP Festival.

Held Fri­day and Saturday, this year’s festival was themed after the third book in the se­ries by J.K. Rowl­ing, “Harry Pot­ter and the Pris­oner of Azk­a­ban.” All pro­ceeds will go to the Garfield Cen­ter for the Arts and the Kent County Pub­lic Li­brary.

“We think it went great,” festival spokes­woman Heather Cal­loway said Mon­day. “All of our tick­eted events were sold out and we had tons of happy visitors come into the town.”

Festival Vol­un­teer Ex­ec­u­tive Board Pres­i­dent Tess Ho­gans said it is es­ti­mated that 6,000 peo­ple vis­ited Ch­ester­town dur­ing the week­end. This is higher than last year’s fig­ure of about 5,000. Visitors came from as far away as Las Ve­gas.

Fri­day’s main event was a kick­off party at the Garfield Cen­ter for the Arts that in­cluded street the­ater scenes from the book, in­for­mal cos­tume con­tests, wizard rock mu­sic and re­fresh­ments by var­i­ous food trucks.

“I al­ways love the party be­cause it’s a great com­mu­nity get-to­gether,” Ho­gans said. “We had well over the ex­pected at­ten­dance. ... At least 320 peo­ple came to it.”

Saturday fea­tured new events, such as a charms class at the Sul­tana Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion — where par­tic­i­pants used an acrylic rod to lev­i­tate a My­lar star with static elec­tric­ity. And there was the Magic Hall of Talk­ing Portraits at Ch­ester­town River Arts. There, pic­tures moved and spoke to those who passed by.

“We had a bunch of new groups par­tic­i­pate in the festival and hold their own events,” Cal­loway said. “It was re­ally nice to see.”

She said the new Gob­lins & Galleons Bank dis­play, at The Bank venue space along High Street, was one of the most pop­u­lar events of the festival.

Vol­un­teers from the Kent School mod­eled the for­mer PNC Bank build­ing after Gringotts Wizard­ing Bank, com­plete with a cheer­ful gob­lin man­ning the front desk. Visitors also were able to look inside a vault com­plete with de­posit boxes.

“It was an in­cred­i­ble sur­prise to see the bank dec­o­rated,” Ho­gans said. “That was a re­mark­able amount of hard work and was just re­ally mag­i­cal.”

Ali Coe, 16, said she first came to Ch­ester­town with a school field trip and while vis­it­ing, saw posters for the first HP Festival.

“I love it and it’s a nice town,” Coe said. “I al­ways have fun while I’m here.”

Festival go­ers also took part in the De­fense Against the Darks Arts Class — where Pa­tronus charms took the shape of gi­ant bub­bles — dur­ing Pot­ter in the Park at Foun­tain Park, brewed mix­tures in a po­tions class, bat­tled with spells in the Phoenix Duel­ing Club on High Street, shopped for wands at Robert Or­tiz Stu­dios and showed off their Pot­ter pride in cos­tume con­tests.

“I think my fa­vorite part is just see­ing all the peo­ple and how much fun they’re hav­ing,” Claire Den­ney, 28, of Sal­is­bury said while dressed as es­caped Azk­a­ban pris­oner Sir­ius Black. “See­ing ev­ery­one dressed up and get­ting into it is pretty cool too.”

The Kids Hog­warts Ex­pe­ri­ence at the Garfield Cen­ter, where young­sters are sorted into one of the four Hog­warts Houses and take classes with wizard pro­fes­sors, was a hit.

“It’s a pretty neat festival,” Re­beca Dain of Bal­ti­more said. “I’m glad they have some­thing like this for the Harry Pot­ter fans.”

Also pop­u­lar was the downtown scav­enger hunt, as par­tic­i­pants went into lo­cal busi­nesses and searched for clues. After com­plet­ing the hunt, they re­ceived var­i­ous prizes.

“We like how the whole town trans­forms and gets in on it,” Lisa Fein­man of Sev­erna Park said, as she and her fam­ily took part in the hunt. “We love do­ing the scav­enger hunt, it’s fun.”

Teams and clubs from across the Del­marva Penin­sula grabbed their broom sticks and took part in the Quid­ditch Tour­na­ment held at Wilmer Park. There also were “Kid­ditch” ses­sions of the wizard­ing sport for younger mages.

The Azk­a­ban Prison Break Party was held at the Garfield Cen­ter Saturday night. Open to all ages, it fea­tured trivia con­tests, themed games, “Quid­ditch pong” and live mu­sic.

Tris­tan Stewart, 11, of Vir­ginia said his fam­ily drove two hours to at­tend the festival.

“We al­ways en­joy it,” Stewart said as he played a game of Qud­ditich out­side the Garfield Cen­ter dur­ing the party.

Lifestyle Editor Leann Schenke contributed to this re­port.

PHOTO BY DO­RIAN MITCHELL

A cheer­ful gob­lin guards the front desk of Gringott’s Wizard­ing Bank dur­ing the HP Festival Saturday, at The Bank venue on High Street. The space was dec­o­rated by the Kent School.

PHOTO BY DO­RIAN MITCHELL

Mya Hall of Sal­is­bury, 20, stands dressed as Pro­fes­sor Re­mus Lupin while Claire Den­ney of Sal­is­bury, 28, poses as re­cently es­caped Azk­a­ban pris­oner Sir­ius Black dur­ing the HP Festival Saturday. See more HP Festival pho­tos on A9.

PHOTO BY DO­RIAN MITCHELL

The first part of the Kids’ Hog­warts Ex­pe­ri­ence was to sort firstyear stu­dents into one of the four Houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Huf­flepuff and Raven­claw. Pro­fes­sor Min­erva McGon­a­gall led the sort­ing.

PHOTO BY DO­RIAN MITCHELL

Young­sters dressed in their finest Harry Pot­ter garb gather on­stage for a cos­tume con­test Fri­day night, dur­ing the HP Festival’s kick-off party at the Garfield Cen­ter for the Arts. The party fea­tured per­for­mances of scenes from “Harry Pot­ter and the Pris­oner of Azk­a­ban,” cos­tume con­tests, fes­tiv­i­ties and more.

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