Harry Potter Festival to Cast a Spell on Chestertown

By Brooke Schultz

Witches, wizards, and muggles will arrive on Chestertown’s very own Platform 9 3/4 tomorrow for the fourth annual Harry Potter Festival.

The event, celebrating J.K Rowling’s bestselling children’s series, is similar to years past, but has more free activities for kids of all ages, said Heather Calloway, publicity chair for the event and archivist at Washington College. Taking place Friday night and all-day Saturday, the festival boasts Quidditch, scavenger hunts, craft vendors, costume contests, and more.

“We get, now, parents who grew up with the books and they’re teaching their kids about the books. It’s interesting to see that it hits multi-generations,” she said. “We try very hard to keep the festival very family-oriented.”

Chestertown’s annual Harry Potter Festival kicks off this weekend, Oct. 6-7. The celebration features scavenger hunts, Quidditch, trivia, and more.

College students can find a variety of events for themselves, Calloway said.

Potter in the Park, which hosts numerous craft vendors, allows for merchandise shopping. For super-fans, trivia and costume contests will test your Harry Potter expertise.

“I think the College students would really enjoy the scavenger hunt,” she said. “You pick up a map, we change it every year, and try to find the clues all over town. It’s great for our local shops, because it makes people go into the shops and see what’s in the shops.”

High Street will be closed to traffic along the shop area as added safety for festival-goers and to open more space for additional vendors who come from all over the country.

“We’ve turned people away for the last couple of years; we have a waiting list,” she said.

All food trucks will be located at Wilmer Park this year, encouraging more people to watch Quidditch, while also giving more space for the activities and craft vendors that are set up in Fountain Park.

The festival is bookended by two parties at the Garfield Center for the Arts: the Kick Off Party on Friday (6-9 p.m., $5 for ages 12+) and the Azkaban Prison Break Party (7:30-10:30 p.m., $15 in advance, $20 at the door) on Saturday.

The parties have different kinds of programming throughout, Calloway said, like “Stump the Hermiones,” where several aspiring Hermiones battle for the title by outwitting each other in trivia.

“I can’t believe the stuff that they know; they’re really amazing at the trivia,” Calloway said.

New this year is the Magic Hall of Talking Portraits ($5 entry), hosted by KidSpot and RiverArts at 315 High St., Suite 108.

Using technology called “augmented reality,” which overlays a computer-generated image onto the real world, participants will get to interact with engaging portraits. Earlier this year, WC made use of the technology for an Archives Gallery, featuring pieces from the archives and special collections.

“People can come and see portraits talk to them like in the movies,” she said.

Enchanted High Tea, hosted by Just Right Treats, is already sold out.

“It sold out instantly last year and again this year,” Calloway said. “It’s great. They have characters float around the room, [and] actual food from a high tea.”

With pleasant weather expected for the weekend, Calloway is looking forward to a good turnout.

“I would say that we were lucky that it rained the past two years,” Calloway said, “because I don’t think we were expecting as many people as showed up. Both years we were at capacity.”

Calloway got involved during the festival’s second year, after her husband helped with its formation.

“When he came home and told me he wanted to do this, I laughed at him,” she said. “Then, I went the first year as a fan and I was just blown away by how excited people were by Harry Potter. From there, it’s grown. Now there’s festivals all over the country.”

For a full list of events, go to chestertownhpfest.org

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