My little town of Jonesborough isn’t just the Storytelling Capital of the World. At special times of the year, it becomes the milieu of storybooks. Visitors can be characters in their very own stories for a day!
This Saturday, July 29, Main Street will magically transform into a Wizardly World right out of the JK Rowling ‘Harry Potter’ series. Event-goers can come dressed in costume and make-believe their own wizarding story throughout Jonesborough’s version of Hogsmeade.
Downtown at Dusk: Wizardly World 2022
Last year was my first experience at this fun activity. I started with the Sorcerer’s Sprint, a one-mile foot race hosted by the Goose Chase. Entrants were “sorted” into houses based on their estimated mile time before dashing over the starting line and through the course.
I ran with the Hufflepuffs, even though my true house is Ravenclaw, and discovered that Hufflepuffs really are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet! In the Wizardly World of Jonesborough, you can choose to be from any of the Hogwarts Houses!
After the race, I enjoyed munching on chocolate frogs and cookies before picking out my very own wand to take home. It was all great fun because it didn’t matter if you were the fastest runner on the course or the slowest walker, everyone got a medal and a Sorcerer’s Sprint t-shirt for their registration fee. I even got my picture taken with one of the witches!
Then I changed into costume to explore the wizarding village that the wizards and witches employed by the Town of Jonesborough (along with their numerous muggle helpers) magically transfigured out of our everyday Main Street. By late afternoon, attendees in their best wizard robes and smartest muggle outfits were visiting Hagrid in his hut, getting wands at the Wand Shop, and enjoying butterbeer and cookies before getting their photo taken at the Knight Bus.
There was a costume contest, too. So many people were dressed as their favorite Harry Potter character or as a student at Hogwarts that I don’t know how the judges could decide which was best. I had a hard time figuring out if I liked Luna Lovegood or a baby house elf the most!
But I had a story of my own to make happen. It was my second time volunteering as an ‘official’ character greeter, and what a fun job that was! As Professor Penelope Periwinkle, a new Art Instructor at Hogwarts, I welcomed visitors to the Wizardry World of Jonesborough, answered their questions, and directed them to the various happenings.
Professor Periwinkle’s ‘story’ was that the students of Hogwarts didn’t take art seriously and were missing out on all the wonderful opportunities that magical painting, dance and theatre offered. So I wanted the Good People of Jonesborough to petition Professor Dumbledore to make Art mandatory at Hogwarts.
It was a blast. I absolutely love when the audience acts in character with me! Some parents acted appalled that Art wasn’t already mandatory at Hogwarts and agreed I needed to take action. Some of them thought Art instruction wasn’t as important as more critical classes, like Herbology or Astronomy. Teenagers promised to sign up for Art as soon as they got off the Hogwarts Express. Little kids often said “I didn’t know Hogwarts had an art class!”
Yep, that’s why Professor Periwinkle had to do something about it! JK Rowling didn’t know what she was missing when she left out Magical Arts Class.
I hope that my performance added a special moment to the memories of the kids attending the event. And maybe it gave the adults a bit of extra entertainment, too!
Wizardly World of Jonesborough, 2023
This year, I will be performing as Professor Penelope Periwinkle again, but as a member of the Main Street Storyspinners, our new street theatre group. Laurie Herlich and I came up with a story that Hagrid’s been on vacation, and while he was gone, Ron Weasley was responsible for taking care of his magical creatures. Unfortunately, Ron didn’t do a very good job and Hagrid’s favorite niffler, Bandit, is missing!
Molly Weasley (played by Laurie) finds out about her son’s mistake and wonders how to find the lost niffler before Ron gets into trouble. Unfortunately, Hagrid (played by Brian Shaver) comes back early from his vacation and Mrs Weasley, Professor Periwinkle and the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor (Professor Mervin Wyvurn, played by Paul Harris) have to distract Hagrid and find the niffler before he notices it’s missing.
As the evening progresses, we’ll find clues that lead us on a hunt through the Main Street Wizardly World and enlist the audience along the way to help us look for the lost niffler.
At the end of the evening, the niffler will be found, but Hagrid will decide that Bandit needs a new home. So we’ll use the Goblet of Water to choose a name from the audience (because we all know that the Goblet of Fire can only be used during the Triwizard Tournament!). The Town has purchased a special plush niffler to give away to the lucky winner.
There will be a costume contest as well as other magical experiences and activities that the whole family can enjoy. Look for more information here: https://jonesborough.com/wizard
If you’ve ever wanted to be part of your own wizardly story, this is the place to be on Saturday, July 23, 2023. So hop on your broom, grab a portkey, pick up a pinch of flue powder, or apparate to Downtown Jonesborough from 5 to 9 pm and spend your evening exploring our Wizardly World.
I’m grateful to have the opportunity to play this part for the event and look forward to seeing everyone dressed up as their favorite Harry Potter character!