IRONTON — An imaginative event for witches and wizards of all ages is taking place this weekend in downtown Ironton.
The Ironton Wizardfest is a two-day festival celebrating all things “Harry Potter,” with vendors selling Potter merchandise, butterbeer, live music, live animals, live wand dueling, wand making, a “potions” chemistry show, cosplay competitions, a costume contest and more.
There were also Lego exhibits, tea leaf readings, an escape room, broom making, a sorting ceremony for each guest and Q&A sessions with the guest actors.
Meanwhile, the historic Ro-Na Theater was transformed into the Great Hall from the “Harry Potter” books and movies.
The festival, which is in its second year, also features Chris Rankin who played Percy Weasley, James Payton who played Frank Longbottom and Walles Hamonde, who played a high-ranking Auror in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
Kylie Shetler traveled from Dayton, Ohio, with her two kids, Lola and Emery, dressed as characters in the “Potter” universe.
“I am Hermione,” said 11-year-old Lola. “She is my favorite.”
“Of course, I had to be Harry Potter,” said 8-year-old Emery.
“A friend told me about this festival, and I looked it up on Facebook and we decided to go,” Shetler said. “It has been well worth the drive. We are having a blast.”
“Harry Potter” fans could even get their picture taken with a dementor — a soul-sucking creature that guards the wizard prison Azkaban — or behind the wheel of the Flying Ford Anglia, a light blue car that was enchanted by Arthur Weasley to fly, as well as to become invisible, with the use of a specially installed device called an Invisibility Booster. Several other picture opportunities were available in photo-op alley with beloved “Harry Potter” characters, and the night ended with the Wizard’s Ball.
The chilly weather didn’t stop large crowds from coming out Saturday.
“We had around 3,000 people come for the festival last year, but this year we are expecting double that amount,” said Melanie Kinney, one of the “Magical 7” that organized the festival.
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.
“We are seeing more 30- and 40-year-old folks this year,” Kinney said. “It’s so wonderful to see these people that grew up loving everything ‘Harry Potter’ and now bringing their children to experience it and learn about it with them.”
Jacob Robinson, 28, of Ironton, says he grew up reading “Harry Potter” books.
“It was the first series of books I ever read, and then I loved all the movies as well,” he said. “Thanks to this festival, I can feed my obsession with everything ‘Harry Potter.’”
The Ironton Wizardfest continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. The main gate for Wizardfest is at South 3rd Street and Vernon Street beside Unger’s Shoe Store (304 S. 3rd St.). A Sunday-only pass is $10. Children 5 and under are free and must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Visit www.irontonwizardfest.com for more information and to view a full schedule of Sunday’s events.
Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.