Warren wizard festival postponed citing Warner Brothers copyright

The staff of Alohomora: A Magical Festival have postponed their festival, scheduled for Oct. 5-6, 2018, to Oct. 4-6, 2019 in Warren.

The decision was made after recent actions by Warner Brothers, the copyright owners of all Harry Potter movies and merchandise, on events that draw on the Harry Potter franchise in any way.

“In recent months, major festivals nationwide have experienced a marked change in relationship with Warner Brothers,” said Alohomora Festival Director Jenette Guntly. “Large-scale Harry Potter festivals, such as the one held in Chestnut Hill, Pa., have received cease-and-desist letters from Warner Brothers’ legal department and have had to postpone and/or institute festival-wide changes very quickly.”

Chestnut Hill’s festival, which celebrated its eighth year in 2017 with 45,000 attendees, was one of the nation’s best-known Harry Potter festivals. In the wake of Warner Brothers’ policy changes, Chestnut Hill officials made the decision to change the format and offerings of the festival completely.

“Now called Wizards and Wands, the event will center on a smaller pub crawl in the Chestnut Hill area,” said Guntly. “Other festivals have experienced the same situation,” she adds, “and have worked to reinvent themselves completely.”

Major festivals in New York state, Illinois, and Ohio have recreated themselves, becoming nonspecifically magical in nature.

“Kent, Ohio’s festival is now the Wizardly World of Kent; New York’s has become the Wizarding Weekend. They have been very successful in reimagining themselves. That’s what we plan to do with our festival,” Guntly said.

With the potential to attract fans to the Warren area, the festival’s organizers are committed to moving forward with a festival that centers on magic and reading.

“The Alohomora Festival will benefit the Warren area a great deal,” said Ruby Wiles, creative producer. “Small towns like ours need events like this — events that showcase what makes us great and brings funds to the area to help us keep it that way.”

In addition to her role within the festival staff, Wiles also heads Free Books for Kids Town, which distributes free children’s books to pick-up sites throughout Warren County and through programs within the Warren County School District. Wiles’s goal for the festival is an increased focus on literacy.

“At the core of our dream for this festival is our love of the books that gave birth to it,” Wiles said. “In spite of recent changes, that focus won’t change. Now, with the postponement, we have the chance to be sure that goal is fulfilled without fear of stepping on copyright toes.”

“We plan to continue our normal meeting schedule throughout the year,” said Guntly. “We also are now planning a New Year’s fundraiser-a magical costume party in partnership with the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry’s (WCCBI) festivities. We have the most wonderful volunteers and we’re all excited to move forward.”

For information, visit Alohomora Festival at The Room of Requirements on Facebook, email volunteer@alohomorafestival.com, or call (888) 548-8858.