What gets a group of geeks to hang out at a bar late on a school night? Wizardfest! Pop-Up Party Tours and Southport Hall in Jefferson hosted a “Harry Potter” themed “pop up wizarding experience” for fans of the popular book and movie series.
Walking towards the bar, Southport Hall looks fairly unassuming; a large, dark, cabin looking building off River Rd. across from the levee. The parking lot wasn’t full, and there wasn’t any activity going on outside or people hanging around the door. I thought I’d gotten the location or the date wrong. Is there another Southport Hall? Walking inside, however, I was met with the sights of people dressed in red, green, blue, and yellow Hogwarts colors, and others dressed up as “Harry Potter” characters and creatures. This was definitely the right place.
After receiving a small gift bag full of themed treats like a rubber bracelet, a Wizardfest koozie, and candy (no Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, though), I made my way to the merch table where I got to pick out my own wand, which proudly sported the yellow and black Hufflepuff colors of my Hogwarts house (or black and gold for New Orleans’ Saints? Who Dat LeviOsa!). This wasn’t one of the larger, film-accurate wands that could be bought online or at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but were simply handcrafted with a small wooden stick and sparkling hot glue, which actually makes it all the more unique.
The trivia contest was starting soon, so I made my way to the bar to prepare for the questions and got to check out the specialty drinks being made for the event. They had drinks like ButterBeer, Polyjuice Potion, and even Unicorn Blood (I stuck with the ButterBeer). As the trivia began, I racked my brain to come up with answers to some of the harder questions (who was Harry’s first kiss?! Cho Chang? Ginny? Moaning Myrtle?). The winning team were dressed in their own Hogwarts house colors and called themselves the Golden Snitches (though “snitches” was replaced by innuendo).
After trivia, the wizards and witches headed to the dance floor and I had the chance to speak with fellow fans about what they loved about Harry Potter. “The stories are fun and nostalgic,” says Laine, dressed as a Slytherin student and sitting next to her friend dressed as Volde- uh, You Know Who. “It was the best reading experience of my life!”
“I’m holding out hope that dragons are real,” says Kate, fellow Harry Potter fan and zookeeper at the Audubon Institute. “I basically want Hagrid’s job.”
For me, I grew up with Harry Potter. When Harry was 11, so was I, and I felt a strong connection to the character and the things he dealt with; mean teachers, bullies, making friends and just finding where you belong. Even going back now 10 years after the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was released, I’m amazed at how relevant the story remains and how it brings back that connection I felt when I was younger. Though, I do find myself yelling at Harry more and more (go find an adult!).
Everyone has their reasons for loving “Harry Potter,” from just being good books, to dreaming of taking care of dragons. Wizardfest may have been a small event, but it brought together fans of the books and movies to share and celebrate their fandom. Hopefully, the party didn’t keep the Muggles up too late.