Wizardfest brings magic to downtown Ironton

November 12, 2018
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Isaac Sartor, 10, of Berea, Kentucky rides down the zip line sporting his "Hogwarts" toboggan as the City of Ironton celebrates the 20th anniversary of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series at Wizardfest on Saturday in Ironton.

IRONTON — Mischief was managed Saturday in downtown Ironton with the first day of Wizardfest bringing magic to a happy crowd of Potterheads.

The two-day festival celebrates all things “Harry Potter” with vendors selling “Potter” merchandise, butterbeer, live music, live wand dueling, wand making, a costume contest and more. Fans could even get their picture taken with a dementor — a soul-sucking creature that guards the wizard prison Azkaban — in photo-op alley or with beloved characters like Hermione thanks to Cos-Ohana cosplay group. The night ended with the Wizard’s Ball with performances from the Cosmadolls and The Dividends, plus a live DJ.

The festival drew in “Harry Potter”-lovers from across the Tri-State. Birdie Mannering and Amanda Cox traveled all the way from Marion, Ohio, in their homemade Slytherin robes to take part. They said they couldn’t sleep Friday night because they were so excited.

“We saw it on Facebook and said we have to go because there isn’t anything like this close to us, ‘Harry Potter’-themed,” Cox said.

Even the winter weather didn’t stop crowds from coming out for the festival. Denise Coleman, owner of Cardinal Wishes Antiques in Ironton, said she was pleased with the crowd even just a few hours into the day.

“It’s just fun,” Coleman said. “We need something fun to do. And it’s all ages — I’ve seen a lot of little kids with their parents.”

Coleman was selling “Harry Potter”-themed furniture pieces including mirrors and dressers that can be found in her store on Vernon Street.

Mannering said she wasn’t expecting to see so many people.

“I know I tell a lot of people I’m going to a ‘Harry Potter’ festival and they are like, ‘You’re lame,’” she said.

While it’s been 20 years since the first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” was released, the magic of the wizarding world created by author J.K. Rowling still touches lives across all generations — as evidenced by the diverse crowd in Ironton.

“It gives people hope,” Cox said. ”(Harry) lived under the stairs and he had a bad life, then he found out he was a wizard and became this great person ... He became more happy and gives people their own little world that it could be. Your imagination just takes over.”

Laura Bayes, one of the “Magical 7” that organized the festival, said she doesn’t think the “Harry Potter” obsession will end any time soon.

“It draws you in and you completely nerd out,” Bayes said. “The people that love it really love and are obsessed with it. I don’t think it’s something that can ever get old. I’ve been reading them since I was a kid.”

The Ironton Wizardfest continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11. The main gate for Wizardfest is at South 3rd Street and Vernon Street beside Unger’s Shoe Store (304 S. 3rd St.). Tickets at the gate are $20. Children under 5 are admitted free.

Visit www.irontonwizardfest.com for more information.

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