Life & Culture

‘Harry Potter’ influences Columbus culture twenty-five years after release of first book

Harry Potter fans can gather together at Wizardfest, a Harry Potter-themed mobile event filled with costumes, themed drinks, dancing and more. Credit: Courtesy of Tony Azzaro

For decades, “Harry Potter” fans have united around their shared passion for the wizarding world through numerous clubs and conferences.

On Sundays at Skully’s Music-Diner, that congregation in the form of Wizardfest—a recurring festive event filled with costume-themed drinks, dancing and more—visiting Columbus for the first time since 2018. Originating in New York in 2017, Wizardfest provides Wizardfest, presenter Tony Azzaro. Wizardfest The adults who were kids when the “Harry Potter” novels were first published with space to celebrate their love of magic.

“There is a lot that focuses on kids who love ‘Harry Potter,’ whether it’s parks or games or things like that,” Azzaro said. “It was supposed to be like, ‘This is a thing for the original generation. Yeah, you guys are now adults, but Let’s meet all those people who remember what it was like when you picked up your first book straight from a bookstore.”

Azzaro said Wizardfest visits cities across the country, offering information, costume contests, and other magical-themed activities to bring magic to “Harry Potter” fans nationwide. The event has traveled to 37 cities so far this fall.

“Anytime we’re back in a city, you know, it’s almost like a musical artist,” Azzaro said. “We want to say, ‘Well, these people are coming in, they want to hear the hits, right?'” They want to hear the things they know and love, but also, what can we ask them in a new and exciting way? “”

“Harry Potter has remained timeless in part because of the classic sense of the hero’s journey and cast of characters, which allow any reader to find someone to relate to,” Columbus resident Rena Gershaw said.

“I think it hit at the right time and produced this fan base that sort of feeds on itself,” Gershaw said. “You know, there are a lot of podcasts, articles, websites, art and fan fiction, no matter what you mean, you can find it in ‘Harry Potter.’”

Emily Zane, first-timer at Wizardfest 2021 and Ohio State graduate, said she’s always had “Harry Potter” in her life. She said she routinely attends the annual “Harry Potter” concert of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, which consists of the orchestra playing the “Harry Potter” soundtrack during the screening of the film.

“I think it’s just a period of time where people can relate really well to growing up as teens and then during adulthood, you know, everyone hopes and wishes for magic to happen in life and the real world,” Zahn said.

Azzaro said that many people in the “Harry Potter” fan base feel that the story’s magic provides an escape from reality.

“I think magic will always interest people because magic is the culmination of something inexplicable, right?” Azzaro said. “In a world where we are constantly discovering why things happen, we have reasons why things happen, evidence why things happen, and magic is unexplainable, and that will always capture people’s imaginations.”

Zilla Johnson, a Columbus resident and Wizardfest attendee, said she grew up with a love for the wizarding world because her mother introduced her to it.

“It’s kind of an escape, but at the same time, you can find it in the real world,” Johnson said. “Even if we’re all Muggles in real life.”

As the first novel in the “Harry Potter” series approaches its 25th anniversary, Azzaro said that love for the wizarding world will continue for many years to come.

“I think that’s why ‘Harry Potter’ is timeless for people, because they might find themselves in it,” Azzaro said. “That’s why they communicate with her.”

Those interested in attending Wizardfest’s next event can find more information about it website.


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