You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Staunton en fête: 'Queen City, mischief & magic'
Or in other words, a celebration of Harry Potter. And everyone here (said to be 20,000 over the weekend last year) seems to know all about Harry Potter. (Alas, we don't.) (28 September 2019)
This is ground zero in downtown Staunton, Virginia -- the main street, East Beverley to the left, West Beverley off to the right; South Augusta straight ahead, and North Augusta behind us.
Festive crowds along East Beverley Street, on a fine day for the fête, with . . .
. . . many having brought along their own transportation.
West Beverley Street thronged
Do Not Climb on the dragon!
Not being entirely the festive sort, nor much inclined to dress ourselves up as witches and wizards, we're just wandering round admiring the fellow citizens who are. Here's where it's all happening, and . . .
. . . here's a list of Saturday's activities. Sunday's have their own chart.
'And great multitudes were gathered together unto him' (i.e., Harry Potter, in this case).
-- All Wizards, please report to the front desk, with dependents.
We don't recognize any of the participants, and wouldn't even without their costumes, but they might well be the city officials pressed into service by 'civic duty'.
A fine mural, nearly completed at this stage
We've been told that Staunton acquired the name the 'Queen City' way way back, when (as now) it was the seat of Augusta County, but in the mid-18th century Augusta County extended to the Mississippi River, and Staunton was its administrative capital. The county, named for the Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, mother of Britain's future King George III, now covers a mere 971 square miles.
Participatory Hogwart dancing (Kristin is merely observing)
A special price on 'Mystical Pretzels'
-- Stand back. Comin' through!
This is the Staunton Antiques Centre, with a piano perpetually out front to be played upon by whomever passes by. In this case, very well indeed.
Another show just about to begin . . .
. . . as soon as all the props have been set up
Down by the 'Wharf' district, a little human chess and some appropriate lectures by faculty members from the Mary Baldwin University
Long lines for some kind of Haunted House or something
The Wharf district is characterized by rows of renovated warehouses from the old railroad days. The station buildings, now put to other uses (like the Depot Grill, our favorite), date from the late 19th century.
The Wizard began his demonstration by noting that we all know what dragons are, but who here has ever seen a 'talking dragon'. And a little kid piped up 'I have'.
After an awkward pause, the Wizard replied 'Well, okay, but here's ANOTHER talking dragon'. With a voice very like the Wizard's own.
Tarot readings, etc. The commerçants were permitted to sell their wares and services, in the spirit of the occasion, organizations were permitted to use the occasion for awareness- and fund-raising, and other volunteers donated their time and imagination for free.
Like this chap
The American Freestyle Karate Federation members are here in small numbers, and happy to explain their art.
A train's just pulled into the station -- we have one Amtrak train, the Cardinal, passing through thrice a week in each direction between New York and Chicago, but that's a local cargo carrier on a spur line, the Buckingham Branch Railroad, recruited for special service for the weekend.
The old Masonic building across the street, now hosting offices and a used book shop
Harry Potter fans will no doubt recognize all of these characters.
-- Hold my pizza for a minute, mum.
That's good for at least a couple of nightmares.
It's clouding over, and we're getting tired anyway. (A few hours later the heavens opened.)
A Kodak moment
The Handkerchief Dance Club in performance
Poor Choupette had to watch the whole thing from an upstairs window.