JEFFERSON — Organizers are finalizing preparations for opening a unique portal to a variety of fandoms in the first-ever Warriors and Wizards Festival in Jefferson on Friday through Sunday, Oct. 19-21.
Warner Bros.’ crackdown on community Harry Potter festivals resulted in a change in direction for Jefferson’s former “Harry Potter Festival USA.” Rebranded as the broader Warriors and Wizards Festival, this year’s event will take place at multiple locations throughout Jefferson.
“This year, we’re addressing people’s desire to have more activities while maintaining a festival feel,” organizer Scott Cramer said.
Parking, crowd management and shuttle bus concerns from past fests have been addressed, he said. Each site designated an individual name will have a site manager, crowd management supervisor and guest services manager that are able to communicate with a control center with any issues (see related story on logistical issues on page A10).
A map of the festival’s designated sites and signage for each site are planned, with a lot of fun activities on tap.
“There are magicians, traditional bands, singing seafaring mates and mermaids, a laser light stage show and the Quidditch Tournament all included with this year’s wristband admission,” Cramer said.
Admission costs $35 for adults and $15 for children ages 3-12. There also are Outer Space or Wizard VIP passes that include all the attractions associated with the wristband, as well as a backpack with collectible items such as a lanyard and action figures. In addition, the VIP passes allow for VIP parking, seating at panels, access to the front of the line on shuttle buses, early 15-minute entrance to panels, a line jumper for augmented reality (AR) experiences, access to the VIP Room with a private restroom and water bottles and access to the horse-drawn wagon and trackless train ride.
Attractions will kick off at Jefferson County Fair Park starting Friday, Oct. 19, at 9 a.m., with more opening at noon when the bus routes begin. An opening ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. with a lighted parade downtown at 7 p.m.
With the exception of Rotary Waterfront Park, known as “Werewolf Island” for the festival, the attraction sites will close at 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Werewolf Island will be open until 10 p.m. with various bands playing at the bandshell.
Sunday hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the entire festival.
Per the festival’s website, guests, attractions and special events are subject to change or cancellation at any time without notice. No refund will be owed if any guest, attraction, special event or any other scheduled performance, person or group is changed or canceled and the event still occurs.
Portal to Adventure
“There are quite a few adventures to experience at Jefferson County Fair Park,” Cramer said.
The fairgrounds is designated as the primary parking for festival-goers at $5 per vehicle.
Cramer said wristbands will be for sale at the Fair Park Activity Center and additional guest services and will-call for pick-up of pre-purchased wristbands will be at the commercial exhibit building.
He said the dairy barn is being transformed into the the Sci Fi Labyrinth featuring various virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, all of which are included with a wristband purchase.
INDE will have multiple augmented reality opportunities that put participants on the screen interacting with realistic 3D animals using AR technology. Three different experiences will be available to participants.
Back to the Jurassic features an interactive experience featuring dinosaurs. INDE’s Air, Land & Sea AR experience, which is a colloboration with National Geographic Society, provides an opportunity to get up close and personal with a diverse range of animals from Africa to the Arctic as they graze, drink and interact with the environment around them. Lastly is INDE’s fully interactive live-controlled Avatar system.
Cramer noted that also featured in the Sci Fi Labyrinth will be virtual reality experiences involving potion making, exploring the dark side of the moon and broom flying.
Adjacent to the dairy barn is the horse barn, which will be designated for Warriors and Wizards as the Kidz Activity Center. Inside will be numerous activities for children with coloring, temporary tattoos, an arcade, decorating a dragon egg and more.
In addition, Eric and Emily Krans will have a 140-square-foot foot Harry Potter Lego display complete with a working train and other scenes from the films and including Harry Potter-related Lego sets that no longer are available.
Also among the highlights will be the exhibit of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van built by Jay Ohrberg, a Hollywood car designer and collector. He is responsible for creating some of the most famous movie and television vehicles.
In conjunction with the turtles van, Steve Lavigne, a cover artist and former letterer and colorist of TMNT comics, will be making an appearance to sign autographs.
Fair Park’s indoor horse arena will be designated as the Ministrel Theater for the weekend.
Bounding Main will be performing on Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and then on Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m.
It is a costumed vocal group that sings richly harmonic versions of traditional maritime songs, bringing the listener into the worlds of pirates, adventure and romance. Each member of Bounding Main is a music and theater veteran, with a diverse entertainment background.
Also, the Minnesota-based Bardmageddon will be performing. The group is a trio of musicians that perform an assortment of sounds including Celtic folk, Irish traditional and western European music and entertainment. The group will performing at alternate times to Bounding Main, on Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
The Jefferson Area Business Center will be designated as Hero's Landing as the first bus drop-off point for the route that loops between the business center and fairgrounds.
Cramer said exhibits and attractions at that site will include the X-34 landspeeder from “Star Wars,” members of the Wisconsin Garrison of the 501st Legion, glass blowing and multiple vendors both inside and outside the facility.
Across the Milwaukee Street pedestrian walkbridge, Rotary Waterfront Park has been renamed Werewolf Island for the duration of the festival.
Cramer said a covered area will be a food court area going from the top of the bandshell and is slated to be decorated as the cantina from “Star Wars” and and the pub from the Harry Potter films.
“That will be a hospitality tent,” he said, noting that adult beverages will be available, as well as other food and commercial vendors.
For the opening ceremony Friday evening at 5 p.m., a female portal master representing one of the many fandoms will kick off the event.
Following the opening ceremony, there will be a 7 p.m. lighted parade that has 45 entries, including various characters from a variety of fandoms. Featured guests of the festival are expected to participate in the parade, riding in convertibles.
The parade begins at Walworth Street, heads north on South Main Street, turns east on East Racine Street and finally goes south on South Center Avenue.
There will be a concert at Werewolf Island after the parade from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday.
On both Friday and Saturday evening, persons who wish to listen to music at Werewolf Island but do not have a wristband will be able to get in at that location for a $5 cover charge after 7 p.m.
Over the course of the festival, various bands and other activities will take place at the bandshell, including performances by TimeCrash and James the Magician. Saturday morning also will include panel discussions with some of the featured guests.
Cramer said retail vendors will be featured along Gardner Avenue from Rock Bottom Express to Linden Drive (Cauldron Alley). Additional vendors will be on Dodge Street from Gardener Avenue to Main Street and from Main Street to Center Avenue. Combined with those at the business center, he said, there are a total of 171 vendors.
Also as part of the festival, two sites with special features along a section in that area is referred to as Privet Drive by the organizers.
“We’ve created a wonderful laser light show around the Ecto-1,” Cramer said.
The Ecto-1 is the vehicle driven by the heroes in the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.” The display is included with the purchase of a wristband and is featured in the the former Ace Hardware building.
Also, a garage on the former Tyson Foods property has been designated as the “Batcave” and will feature the 1966 Batmobile from the 1960s Batman television show.
The secondary bus route will be from River’s Edge Market to the VFW Hall Recreation Center.
Located at 230 S. Main St., Festival Village will be the control center for the festival and also serve as the site for autographs and photos with the featured guests.
Guests expected to appear include: Tolga Safer, a British actor who is best known for his roles in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “American Assassin” and “Spotless”; Trevor Butterfield, an actor and special effects technician who appeared in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Flash Gordon” and “Return of the Jedi”; Josh Herdman, known as Gregory Goyle from the Harry Potter film series; Michael Henbury, an actor known for appearances in “Return of the Jedi”, “Labyrinth,” “Willow” and as a Gringotts Wizarding Bank goblin in the last Harry Potter film; and Martin Ballantyne, who has had background roles in Harry Potter films and was one of the Joker’s henchmen in the Batman film, “The Dark Knight.”
All are expected to be present for all three days of the festival.
Autographs can be purchased the day of the star’s appearance. Prices will vary from guest to guest, is established by the individual and is not included with purchase of a wristband. Warriors and Wizards Festival does not require or dictate pricing. There will be signage to announce prices for autographs and photos if allowed. Participants are asked to respect the guests and abide by the rules.
“Treat them with respect while they are here,” Cramer said.
Times will be staggered and posted at Festival Village.
Also, the parking lot, Old Firehouse Alley, has been renamed Destiny Triangle and will feature palm readers, tarot card readers and other similar experiences.
Cramer said each experience is included with purchase of a wristband for a limited period of time that will be posted at each station.
He said the remainder of the parking lot/alley will be set up for additional seating area to support Brick Haus Cafe and Wine and Roses.
The former VFW Hall Recreation Center is referred as “The Outer Limits.” No public parking is permitted in the VFW parking lot. It is only open for the buses to come in, drop off attendees and turn around.
The Elumenati, of Milwaukee, is an immersive projection design firm offering innovative virtual reality experiences in domes, panoramas, and globes.
Cramer said it will be offering a broom-flying experience and more for an additional fee in the former VFW Hall. The experience is not included in a wristband purchase.
The 1.8-mile corn maze at the site is included in the wristband price.
In addition, there will be an interactive wizard trivia activity in the ballpark.
Cramer said a footpath will lead participants from the VFW to Tensfeldt Park to the area set up for the Quidditch tournament.
The first section of the park will feature a group of live-action role-playing game players.
The Jefferson Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department organized the Quidditch tournament bringing 12 teams for one of the largest competitions in the region for the U.S. Quidditch Association.
Teams include clubs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University, Kansas, Minnesota, Loyola University, Illinois and Iowa.
Gameplay will take place Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the bracketed tournament will be held Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. when the tournament champion will be crowned.
Cramer said a Try Quidditch program officially will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, providing adults and children an opportunity to try various aspects of the sport. (Watch for a full story featuring the complete Quidditch schedule next week.)
For more information on times and other attractions, visit the Warriors and Wizards website at https://warriorsandwizardsfestival.com. Times for various acts also will be posted at the sites at which they are appearing.