ITHACA, NY — Ithaca’s second Wizarding Weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with Witches in the Alley, featuring a small taste of the tricks and treats yet to come over the course of the festival.
Vendors gathered in Press Bay Alley to preview their wares for the main event, and early festival-goers took the opportunity to snag merchandise before the crowds fully descended.
Liana and Aiden Hall from Vermont waited to get their new wands engraved with their initials when their father Dwayne emerged from Amuse: Modern Cottage Industry, shaking an opaque bag.
“Okay, close your eyes. You’re going to pick out what house you’re in,” he said.
The two children reached inside, and Liana pulled out a wooden pin engraved with a snake.
“You got Slytherin, which is perfect for you.”
“Yep, I’m evil,” Liana laughed.
With the festivities beginning earlier in the week than last year, Jody and Kristine Litteer, from Chemung, were already dressed in costume and in town as early as Thursday for the long haul.
“I’m interested in the characters and the costumes, and the children’s looks of wonder,” said Kristine, who was dressed as a mystical forest character called Arrow.
With a full year’s advance notice, many vendors were thankful for the extra time to plan.
Erin Isbilen of Blood Moon Adornments, makes metal, stone and bone jewelry by hand. She is also a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, and “this is what I do to decompress,” she said.
Last year, she had only started her jewelry line a month and a half before the first Wizarding Weekend.
“I’ve been making jewelry for a long time, this was my first big event and it was such a blast. I sold out of everything I had made, since I only had a week’s notice and it kind of blew up,” Isbilen said.
On top of her usual assortment of steampunk and mystical-inspired jewelry, Isbilen was able to make wizarding-specific items, like wand and Deathly Hallow necklaces, for the event.
Byron Miller of Broomhilde, a broom and magic wand shop, was busy setting up for his first time at the event.
“My wife and I have been doing this for about 15 years. We mostly do Renaissance faires all over the country,” Miller said.
All of his wands and broomsticks are handmade, and his Nimbus 2000 and Firebolt racing brooms are all “regulation Muggle quidditch length.”
At the head of Press Bay Ally at Life’s So Sweet Chocolates, Darlynne Overbaugh one of Wizarding Weekends key organizers, was busy readying the store with chocolate quills, pumpkins, rats and lightning bolt scars to prepare for Saturday.
For the first Wizarding Weekend, the line for Life’s So Sweet ran out the door and onto Green Street.
Overbaugh was optimistic that visitors would be just as enthusiastic approaching year two.
“People are starting to come down. We had the blood drive yesterday, and it’s not just about celebrating the fandom, it’s about doing something good for the world and for others,” she said.
“I think the most exciting part is to see people coming in costume and just enjoying being part of the magic.”