Blyth BIA supportive of Festival of Wizardry - Oct. 26, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Festival of Wizardry brought rave reviews from the village’s downtown businesses during the Oct. 18 meeting of the Blyth Business Improvement Area (BIA).
BIA Chair Karen Stewart explained that, while the experience was fantastic, she wanted to think of ways the BIA could better support the event next year, including constructive criticism.
While everyone did preface their comments with what a great event the meeting was, member business representatives did have some suggestions for Transfigured Town, the festival’s parent company, for next year’s event.
Irene Kellins of Stitches with a Twist said she would have liked more information presented to the businesses and more communication from the group as to what to expect.
Queens Bakery representative Les Cook agreed, saying that, with a little more information and the experience of this year under their belts, the retailer and service locations in the community will be more prepared and put on an even better event than they did this year.
Cook said he hopes Transfigured Town repeats the event saying that, for the day the event ran, his restaurant could not have done better business. He also said the people attending the event were “beautiful people” who came looking to spend money.
“I have never seen so many people come to a place to have a good time and stand in line like that without complaining,” he said. “They were having fun while they waited doing other things and, whatever other issues happened outside the shop, we are very happy.”
Stewart said Blyth Memorial Hall, which doubled as the Borealis School of Wizardry for the event, welcomed 3,000 people in one day. She agreed with Cook’s assessment of the group as well.
“There was no one crying, shoving or pushing,” she said.
BIA treasurer Gary van Leeuwen, who sits on the BIA executive representing the local clergy, asked what brought so many guests downtown. Stewart explained there were the events at Memorial Hall as well as two scavenger hunts set for the day.
“[The annual reunion of the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association] doesn’t bring people downtown like that,” van Leeuwen said.
BIA Secretary Deb Sholdice said the group was a younger crowd and that might explain some of the increase in traffic in the village’s downtown core.
“These people came looking for an event,” she said. “They were really looking for a Transfigured Town.”
Several BIA members said Blyth didn’t disappoint those looking for a made-over town, with Cook saying he heard at least 20 people comment on how impressive the village was.
Cook wanted the BIA to focus itself and its retail and restaurant members on making a Wizard Month in the village to help support the event and keep it going.
“Why not make it a whole month?,” he said “If the event is going to be annual, in September instead of October and in the village, let’s invite the local community to help get everyone into the spirit. Start the celebration two weeks before the festival and run it two weeks after. There is no reason we can’t have that kind of buy-in.”
Van Leeuwen said any kind of events have to complement the Festival, pointing to the yard sales that pop up throughout Blyth during the annual Thresher’s Reunion.
“They love them,” he said. “We have to look at what we can do in people’s homes and backyards to make it work.”
The BIA vowed no specific action in regards to the Festival, however there was some discussion regarding the Festival of Thrones, a medieval-themed event set to be hosted at Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company next June. Stewart explained the event will be held at the same time as the Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story and stated she hoped there wasn’t a problem with lack of facilities due to the events being held concurrently.