Kent Potterfest -- Kent, OH


Yesterday we attended a first time event hosted by Main Street Kent. I'm not sure that anyone knew quite what to expect from Kent Potterfest, because the crowds ended up being pretty overwhelming (more on that later), however, I suppose an overwhelming crowd of Harry Potter fans is the best type of crowd to ask for at an event with long lines.




There were multiple 21+ Potions Classes throughout the evening as well as some classes for kids. However, the evening events were all sold out by the time we looked at attending them. Luckily the Leaky Cauldron (known as Venice Cafe to Muggles) added a 21+ Potions Class for 2:00 p.m. and although the actual Potterfest activities didn't start until 6:00 p.m. I think we lucked out by being in Kent much earlier than the crowds.




The Leaky Cauldron was prepared to show us how to make a variety of Potions. 





The first potion was a Kreacher Komfort complete with Southern Comfort, Peach Schnapps, and Iced Tea.




Next up was a Crookshanks Cooler with Pineapple Vodka and Coconut Rum. 




We also tried the Roaring Lion which had Cranberry Vodka and Goldschlager to represent the Gryffindor House colors.





Followed by a Sly Gin Fizz for the Slytherin House.




To top off the Potions Class the last potion was The Goblet of Fire complete with dry ice.





The Potions Class ended around 2:45 which gave us almost three hours until the actual event was supposed to begin. We visited a few locations and were told that there was a strict 6:00 p.m. start time being imposed on them. However, it turned out that some places were already decorated so we walked around Diagon Alley.









Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour (Popped! for the muggle readers) did a fantastic job with their decor. Every item in the store had been renamed to fit the theme and they allowed us to purchase Butter Beer Ice Cream before the  6:00 p.m. start time.












Diagon Alley was beautifully decorated and every shop had some decoration...
















Diagon Alley ended at Main Street which featured even more shops...









Markus Scarrs Indelible Tattoos (Downtown Gallery) had a wide variety of tattoos available.









We ran into some people doing set-up back on Erie Street and they let us play with their photo cut-out. I appreciated that it was reversible so that it could say "Have You Seen This Wizard?" or "Have You Seen This Witch?"


  


With two hours to go until the main event we decided to go to Laziza for lunch, we were entirely unaware that they had six Harry Potterfest features on their menu for the day and were pleasantly surprised that we could continue our Potterfest celebration throughout lunch. 




The Mischief Managed Cocktail...



The Dementor's Kiss...


Butter Beer....



Lunch wouldn't have been complete without an order of the Cauldron Cake complete with Chocolate Frog.



Back out on the streets it was about 5:00 p.m. and the Muggle Wall was getting more use. There were also quite a few more people in the streets, many witches and wizards in house robes.









A line had already formed at Twilfitt & Tattings (Carnaby Street) of people hoping to earn a free Time Turner for being one of the first 100 through the door.





The Time Turners were pretty cool, we opted not to wait in line for one, but a lot of hopefuls were very happy when the clock struck 6:00 p.m.




Artist at Heart had a tent set-up on Erie for pre-registered guests to learn how to paint a Very Potter version of a Starry, Starry Night.




I appreciated the extreme attention to detail that went into planning this event, it seemed that no location was left un-Potterfied. Even the Record Courier boxes were taken over by The Daily Prophet. 





Ollivander's Wand Shop (blue -- Goodwill Boutique) had five different photo booths available for photo ops. 





The Devil's Snare....



The Apothecary Shop...

Platform 9 3/4...




Dobby looking for S.P.E.W support...



And the Sorting Hat...



The clock finally struck 6:00 and downtown Kent became pure insanity. To help give you an idea here are two photos I saw on the Main Street Kent Facebook page that will help give you an idea of the crowd. I didn't take any of my own, because in the wall to wall people, I didn't want to get my camera knocked out of my hand (that would have been just my luck).


Photo from Main Street Kent Facebook. 
Photo from Main Street Kent Facebook. 

As for us, we ended up waiting about 20-30 minutes in line for the Three Broom Sticks for a butter beer. It seems as though we had it much easier than other people since we got in line at 5:50, I saw on Facebook later that my boss waited 2 1/2 hours to get into the Three Broom Sticks.





Overall, the large time gap in between our Potions Class and the start of Kent Potterfest ended up being a good thing. We left the event at 7:00, because we had already seen everything that we wanted to see and no one wanted to stick around until 8:30 to see the costume contest.



If the Facebook event for Kent Potterfest is any indication 4,400 people "went" to the event and another 10,000 were "interested" in attending the event. I've never seen that many people in downtown Kent, not even for Halloween which is a yearly mess perpetuated by drunken college kids.

My understanding of Kent Potterfest is that Main Street Kent intended for it to be a small celebration for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child being released and that it turned into a massive event. If this becomes a yearly event due to the popularity, I have some suggestions based on my observations.

The first is that the roads around downtown should be closed next year, even closing a few roads would be helpful, cars being able to go wherever they wanted with that many people and that many children was just not good all around.

Second, it was nice to be able to enter the shops, but that became a huge burden with the lines of people -- the event might run a little better in the future if set-up like the Masterpieces on Main Wine Fest or Oktoberfest with outside booths for all of the stores. That might also be a logistical nightmare, because neither of those events seemed nearly as large as Kent Potterfest, but it might have helped clear up some of the congestion.

Third, knowing how many people attended this event would in the future help the vendors who stayed open, I know that some stores advertised certain things and were sold out before 6:00 or right after 6:00.

Lastly, the 6:00 mandated start time was a little rough, I know the goal was for this to be a party leading up to the book release, but with one Potions Class event at 2:00 p.m. and plenty of people walking around before 6:00 p.m. starting earlier might have helped spread the crowd out a little more. I'm sure some of the people with children waited for the midnight release, but I'm sure many would have been happy to attend earlier in the afternoon to avoid some of the crowds.

My rating for Kent Potterfest: 





Comments

  1. They did a great job with limited time and limited attendance. Perhaps a shuttle parking sit, streets closed, $5 fee before event will get preliminary numbers and $10 the day of. Start time of noon and more vendors. The fee can help with a great live band with Potter themed act.....etc. To quote Field if Dreams..."If you build it, they will come.". Such a fantastic community for a magical event.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with all of your suggestions! I think they certainly weren't expecting the crowd that arrived. If this is an annual event, it can become bigger and better :)

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