The town of Staunton will be called Hogsmeade this weekend as wizards and muggles gather for the seventh annual Queen City Mischief & Magic Festival.
This year’s theme is “Welcome Home” with the sub-theme “Beware of Low-Flying Owls”.
Sarah Lynch founded the weekend event in 2016.
“I really just wanted to celebrate [Harry Potter] books and have a magical weekend,” said Lynch, who owns and operates Baja Bean Co. in downtown Staunton.
She added that she did not expect the weekend to attract so much attention.
She expects the usual 10,000 to 20,000 visitors to “smile and meet people they have a lot in common with” at the first in-person QCMM since 2019.
“Everything that happened is just magical,” Lynch said of the organization of this year’s festival.
The weekend requires significant planning for Lynch and the 15 members of QCMM’s planning committee, as well as meeting with city officials and Staunton businesses and gathering volunteers.
“That’s what makes this festival huge,” Lynch said of community involvement. She said Staunton is special. “It’s magic.”
Eighty volunteers from the Valley, Richmond and northern Virginia make this weekend possible. While Lynch will spend the weekend working to make the festival a success, she is “just very happy to be living where I am.”
“I definitely had a smile on my face all weekend,” she said.
Virtual events in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic have received “appreciative” feedback from attendees, Lynch said, as well as from volunteers. “They were very pleased with the turnout.” Some Zoom events drew 400 to 1,000 participants.
“I thought [the virtual events were] enough to keep people informed,” Lynch said. “And at that moment, everyone was looking for some kind of magic.”
But, she said, she knew a return to personal training this year was necessary.
“I missed it terribly,” she said.
Several aspects of the weekend are different this year, most notably the fact that most events will be held on Saturday and Sunday. Several businesses will host events on Friday.
Precautions will be taken with frequent disinfection.
Nikki Stamps of Warrenton, who owns Bird in a Hand, will bring four live owls and two hawks with her to participate in the festival.
Reptile World of Bowie, Maryland will be back this weekend with live snakes, turtles and other reptiles.
Visitors will collect stamps instead of cards on their cards, which will create a puzzle.
Among the events planned for the weekend is a Dementor Dance Party at the Sunspot Pavilion from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday.
Twelve-month calendars will be available “to make the whole year magical.”
According to Lynch, it’s not just Staunton residents and business owners who make the weekend magical. The visitors are nice and always ready to help each other on weekends.
“You couldn’t ask for a better group of people to come to your city,” Lynch said.
Four shuttles will be available every 15 minutes from Staunton Mall to downtown on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 10pm.
Dynamix DXS LLC of Staunton will assist with sanitizing the restrooms every hour as well as disinfecting the water hydration station.
“We just want people to be as safe and comfortable as possible,” Lynch said.
A full list of events is available online.