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Last summer's inaugural Kent Potterfest brought nearly 10,000 people to downtown Kent for an afternoon and evening of Harry Potter celebration. This year's event could rival that number.
"We put the event page up a couple months ago on Facebook and now there's a couple thousand people planning to go, so we are expecting a huge turnout," said Heather Malarcik, executive director of Main Street Kent, in March.
Main Street Kent will host the second annual Kent Potterfest from noon to 9 p.m. July 29. Last year, people and families of all ages lined the streets dressed in Harry Potter gear as they anticipated the release of the new Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." There's no book this year, but that won't stop fans from showing off their Harry Potter pride.
Many businesses in the city held special events during last year's Potterfest, such as costume contests, scavenger hunts and magic shows. More than 40 Kent businesses will participate in the event this year.
"The Kent Free Library will stay open all day and they will be having a live owl show," Malarcik said. "The Wells Sherman House will be open all day with all kinds of different activities and photo opportunities. We'll have three focal points for entertainment. The Dan Smith Community Park will have potion classes and shows all day. The Hometown Bank Plaza will have costume contests, live wizard chess and a scavenger hunt all day. In Acorn Plaza, we'll have some smaller features such as an origami artist and a couple of other activities."
Other businesses expected to participate include The Loft, Tree City Coffee & Pastry, Ray's Place, Popped!, 157 Lounge and Dave's Cosmic Subs.
Another addition this year will be a Potterfest 5K. This will be held July 28, one day before the actual event. The run will take place along the Esplanade and around Kent State University. Registration is $25 and participants will receive a shirt and medal.
Details and registration information for the Potterfest 5K can be found at https://runsignup.com/Race/OH/Kent/KentPotterFest5k. Details about the Potterfest event itself can be found at http://mainstreetkent.org/events/kent-potterfest/.