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The festival that must not be named

Harry Potter fans, from left, Ayla Harper, Phynix Menendez, 11, and Bill Melendez, of Front Royal, pose with Harry Potter Festival organizers Tiffany Hockman, Patti Mullin and Debbie Ritenour, all of Strasburg, at the 2017 festival that was held in downtown Strasburg. Ashley Miller/Daily file

The Festival That Must Not Be Named  – formerly known as the Harry Potter Festival – returns to downtown Strasburg beginning Oct. 12 for an expanded weekend full of magical events for witches and wizards of all ages.

Strasburg event planner Olivia Hilton said the festival began as a locally crafted event and has continued with the work of the local “magical committee.” Proceeds from the festival will benefit  Strasburg schools, especially the lunch program for students who have past due balances or are low on funds and strings class.

The hope is for the event to stay affordable, so locals and visitors can enjoy a family friendly event and feel like part of the magic,” Hilton said.

Debbie Ritenour, the festival’s originator, said the name of the festival had to be changed to avoid copyright infringement.

Other “Harry Potter” festivals throughout the country have experienced legal pressures from Warner Bros. for using the franchise’s name without permission.

Ritenour, a big Harry Potter fan, started the festival as an opportunity to share her love for the books and characters with the community. She admitted she didn’t think it would be as big as it was last year.

Over 400 people attended last year,” she said. “This year we’re expecting upward of 800 to 1,000 people. That’s just amazing.”

The three-day event begins with a “Witches Yule Ball” on Friday evening at the Box Office Brewery. It will feature the Holly Hathorne Band and Strasburg’s local witch group.

Saturday kicks off with magical vendors featuring classes in potions, herbology and divinations inside local downtown businesses including Pot Town Organics and Sibling Rivalry. There will also be a scavenger hunt throughout the downtown including the train at the Strasburg Museum, and will also incorporate some of the town’s murals as well as clues that have been hidden. A magician will be performing, along with an escape room inside the Town Hall, while local food trucks including Shaffer’s BBQ, 0-60 Energy Café and Doe’s will be stationed behind the library. Saturday’s events will conclude with a Wizarding Dinner and a family movie night.

Sunday will feature more magical vendors, classes, trivia games in the new Downtown Event Space and a live owl presentation.

Potterheads are encouraged to wear house colors and costumes are recommend but not required.

Several ticket types are available. Visit the “Second Annual Festival That Must Not Be Named” on Facebook or Eventbrite, www.tinyurl.com/ycdwbcm5.

Tickets range from general kid’s tickets for $12 up to VIP adult tickets for $30 – VIP tickets include entrance into many of the activities.

If You Go

When: Oct. 12-14.

Where: Downtown Strasburg.

Admission: $12 and up; $30 for VIP

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