This article courtesy of the Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Virginia – Sunday, October 30, 2016

Muggles and wizards gathered in Scottsville on Saturday, October 29, 2016 for the town’s third annual Harry Potter Halloween.

Businesses in downtown Scottsville were transformed into shops in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, two locales in J.K. Rowling’s book series.

“This is really the first year we’ve had this big of a crowd and this many participants of businesses and organizations in town,” said Kirsten Freshwater, the manager at Baine’s Books & Coffee. “The first year, it was just us here at Baines Books & Coffee.”

Freshwater said that in the first year, they decorated the shop and served “Harry Potter”-themed treats on Halloween, and the evening ended up being a big hit.

“The following year, lots of other businesses in town came to us and said, ‘That was really cool, how can we be involved,’ so we collectively came up with this idea to turn the whole town into Hogsmeade, and each business take on a different Hogsmeade business,” she said. “However, this year we have run out of Hogsmeade establishments, so there’s also Diagon Alley establishments and such around town as well, plus vendors at the farmer’s market pavilion.”

The second year, 11 businesses participated. This year, 25 businesses took part, and they decorated vacant storefronts with “Harry Potter” themes, as well. Because of how big the event has grown, they established a planning committee, the Magic Ministry of Scottsville, to organize and raise money for the event. They estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 people would attend the event.

“It’s just a whole lot of fun and we never anticipated for it to be this big,” Freshwater said. “It was supposed to be just an event for Scottsville to enjoy, and the greater Scottsville area, and now people are driving four hours to be here, which is crazy and amazing.”

Heather Stertzer, co-owner of Scottsville Supply Co., which was dressed up as the Owl Post, said that events like this are great for the community and great to promote the town.

“Scottsville’s on an economic upturn, so the more that we work together, the more we can expand our regional grasp of people knowing that we’re here and businesses are thriving and we do fun activities that are family-oriented.”

The most popular shops were Honeydukes (a transformed Baine’s Coffee and Books), where Harry Potter fans could purchase a (non-alcoholic) Butterbeer, and the Ollivanders wand shop (usually Om Tattoo and Massage), where the appropriate wand was matched with a wizard.

“Thursday and Friday are the days when most folks came down — the volunteers — to suddenly start transforming the town, since there’re many businesses that still need to be open to the public,” said Terri Long, Magic Ministry of Scottsville committee member who portrayed Rowena Ravenclaw, one of the four house founders in “Potter” lore.

There were two Sorting Hat ceremonies, where fans that had previously purchased tickets were able to be sorted into one of the four houses of Hogwarts, the school of magic from the series.

“That was our big concern, that the crowds were going to be so big that people would be disappointed but everyone seems very happy so far,” said Tom Green, Magic Ministry of Scottsville committee member who played Godric Gryffindor, another house founder. “Looks like lots and lots of happy Harry Potter-goers.”

A group of fans from Farmville and Amelia County said the town “owned it” when it came to almost every business participating in the event.

“I wish Farmville would do something like this,” said Charlie Motter, who was dressed as a golden snitch — an important part of the sport of Quidditch — in yellow from head to toe.

“Harry Potter’s just as much fun for adults as it is for kids,” said Jon Grant, who was dressed as a dark wizard. “It is.”

“It lets us be crazy,” said Christa Morris, dressed as Professor Sybill Trelawney.

“Because everyone has Harry Potter in common, everyone is so nice” Morris said. “It’s not like when you go to an event and people are mean, even the people that are visiting, like us, are super fun.”

“The amount of strange looks is minimal,” Motter said.

Bob Abbott, a former town councilor who on Saturday portrayed Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, said Scottsville has transformed over the past three years with events like this and the influx of younger people and their businesses, such as Sterzer’s. He credits a lot of this to Freshwater’s efforts.

“Thousands upon thousands of people who didn’t even know what Scottsville was are coming in,” he said. “This was all because of Kristen’s idea.”