Downtown Red Deer was feeling magical this past weekend.
The Ross Street Magic Festival began Saturday and continued Sunday, with a scavenger hunt, wand making, a costume contest, live entertainment, a vendor market and more filling parts of the city’s downtown.
In past years, Katheryn Harris organized a Harry Potter-themed event called Diagon Alley Downtown, which has now transformed into the Ross Street Magic Festival.
This was the first magic-themed event in the city’s downtown since 2019. In 2020, the plan was to make the event bigger and focus on fantasy storytelling beyond just Harry Potter. The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year that vision of expanding the festival has become a reality.
“We wanted incorporate other things like elves, fairies and all of those things you’ll see at medieval fairs and places like that,” said Harris.
“We were hoping to create a space for people to be who they are and enjoy the things that come out of fantasy books. That’s the goal.”
In addition to the Ross Street Patio having Magic Festival elements, the festival also stretched to the alleys immediately north and south of Ross Street.
In the alley to the south, there was an “Adventure Alley,” with wand making, games and more. The Red Stags of Red Deer hosted sword fighting in that alley as well.
Sara Dudenhoeffer, who organized the Ross Street Magic Festival with Harris, said they wanted to shine a light on the downtown.
“We are passionate about bringing people to downtown Red Deer,” said Dudenhoeffer.
“The downtown has a lot to offer and we would like to see more people invest in the downtown. It’s a beautiful place and the last couple of years we’ve seen lots of murals go up and all kinds of stuff. We want people to enjoy what’s here.”
There was also an artisan market in the alley to the north.
“We really want to see people use this event as a means to shop local and enjoy these local businesses,” she said.
“We want to see artisans supported, our local businesses downtown supported and local nonprofits supported. We have a few nonprofits here: the Red Deer Queer Community Association and the Medicine River Wildlife Centre.”