The I.B.M. Blog & Articles

The International Brotherhood of Magicians

04 Jan

Hot Springs Second WOW Yields Stories

Category: Blog   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK

 Any multiple day magic gathering is always going to have many human interest stories since people and their activities are inherently interesting to other people. Linking Ring Assistant Editor Dennis Schick covered the Second Annual Weekend of Wonder in Hot Springs, September 19-21, 2014 and reported on it in the December issue. But there was not room for any of the many side stories which came out of the public magic festival. Here are two of those stories.



Who knows how many lives were touched by the first three WOWs? But at least one touching story came out of this year’s WOW in Hot Springs. A friend of co-producer Maxwell Blade told him that he heard of a twelve-year-old boy -- Colton Miller -- who was depressed because he was afraid he would not live long enough to attend the Weekend of Wonder, or might be too sick or in treatment for his cancer and couldn’t attend. Co-producers Max and Jay Scott Berry immediately reached out to the family, gave them Golden Passports (tickets to all events), and made sure other performers knew about him as well.


As it turns out, Colton was able to attend several of the shows, was introduced from the stage at the Saturday night show, came on stage while Max played and sang Elton John’s touching “Your Song,” and later helped Losander with his Floating Table. Further, he assisted on stage during the Stars of Tomorrow Show the next day.


Colton’s mother said he was thrilled, that it gave him new energy and hope, and that he now is better, and is still talking about Weekend of Wonder! 




Long-time I.B.M. member Bob Leedom of Glenwood, Maryland, read the review of the first Weekend of Wonder in the November 2013 issue of The Linking Ring. Because of it, he and his wife decided to attend the 2014 festival. Bob retired ten years ago after thirty-seven years working as an engineer in the design and development of radar systems for fighter jets, for Northrop Grumman. 


He and his wife Jacque, a retired teacher, flew to Little Rock, rented a car and toured that city before driving an hour to Hot Springs for the WOW. Bob and Jacque went to everything, including the lectures and workshops. After the weekend they drove over to Memphis (two-and-a-half hours east of Little Rock) for more sight-seeing, before flying home. They win the prize for coming the farthest (except for Jay Scott Berry, from Australia -- and Rokas Bernatonis, from Lithuania).





With Maxwell Blade's heavy local involvement in Hot Springs, he has decided not to co-produce the Weekend of Wonder in Asheville, North Carolina this year, but is going to focus his efforts in Hot Springs, including continuing his own magic theater and opening a new "Odditorium Museum." 


Meanwhile, co-producer Jay Scott Berry is committed to spreading the public magic festival concept, and already has produced a third successful one last Fall in Old Sacramento, California. In 2015, he will produce at least seven more including:  The Asheville Magic Festival in North Carolina, May 1-3; The Stockholm Magic Festival in Sweden, June 12-14; The Zagreb Magic Festival in Croatia, June 26-28; The Glastonbury Magic Festival in England, July 17-19; The Woodstock Magic Festival in New York; August 28-30; The Sedona Magic Festival in Arizona, October 24; and The Old Sacramento Magic Festival, October 16-19.


Yes, the public magic festival idea is viable and has been very successful in various forms in various places around the world. But a major factor in their success, is a commitment by one or more individuals and organizations (mainly a local magic group). They take a lot of time and people to plan and pull off. Berry is willing to talk with anyone about how to produce and put on such a local public magic festival. Contact him at: <> Remember that he lives in Australia and also is on the road much of the time.





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