Many people have heard of Pottercon, the annual Harry Potter meetup for adults in Brooklyn. There’s drinking, costume contests, trivia competitions, and enough good memories to keep away dementors for years. But fewer people know the person who began it: Margaret Kaminski, comedian and total Slytherin.
“I know people may think that means I’m a jerk — I promise I’m not,” said Kaminski. “But I am ambitious: I know what I want, and I’m not afraid to do what it takes to get it. But I’m NOT down with any of that racist pureblood stuff. Nuh-uh. That’s only a few Slytherins misrepresenting the rest of us. Other than that, Slyth all the way. I even love snakes.”
Kaminski loves Harry Potter. Even now, years after the books ended, she’s finding questions and theories about the world and characters that she never originally considered. But the idea for Pottercon started three years ago.
“I was looking at a pile of robes, ties, wands, and cauldrons, debating what to do with them. I didn’t have any more midnight movie-openings or book releases to look forward to, so I couldn’t justify keeping them… but I also wasn’t ready for the magic to end.” Kaminski knew she couldn’t be the only Harry Potter fan in this position, so she began plotting Pottercon. “I decided to give us all a yearly event to look forward to — a place where we could dress up, grab a butterbeer, and debate which house the Kardashians would be sorted into among friends.”
The first year was originally planned to be a casual meetup with a few friends at a bar, to knock back a few butterbeers play Harry Potter games, but it turned into a rousing success. She asked her comedian friends to host portions of the a bigger event, at the bigger venue at the Bell House.
“I couldn’t do it without their support, space, or endless stream of butterbeer,” said Kaminski.
“Every time someone posted on social media about having a good time, or came up to me after and told me they wanted to get involved, it gave me an extra burst of confidence that we’d stumbled upon something really magical. It’s the community that really keeps me going — as long as they’re looking forward to PotterCon, I’ll be there planning it,” said Kaminski.
For Kaminski, it’s important that Pottercon be an interactive, amazing experience for any fan who attends. There’s a Sorting ceremony hosted by the hilarious Joe Firestone – “she could host my own execution and I would laugh the whole time” – where people are sorted into Hogwarts houses on stage. A trivia competition, sponsored by Trivial Pursuit: World of Harry Potter, will be hosted by last year’s winners. (Kaminski recommends bringing your Remebralls for the hard questions.) There’s a costume contest hosted by Emily Bogue. There are prizes for every event, with specialty Harry Potter cocktails and swag available throughout the day, as well as special surprises.
“Even dementors would enjoy themselves,” said Kaminski, who watched loners leave last year’s event in giant packs of new friends.
“I think friendship is the closest we get to actual magic, so I love stories like those. We even had a couple get engaged at PotterCon last year! I wish they had told me what they were planning — I would have worked it into the program,” said Kaminski. “I do think there’s this weird element of adult wizard dating at these types of events—a lot of people ‘joke’ about looking for their future husbands and wives at PotterCon. Someday I’m going to find a way to sneak a matchmaking element into the event. Hold tight, lonely wizards. I’m working on it.”
This year’s Pottercon will take place this Saturday from 2 to 8 pm at the Bell House in Brooklyn, NY. The event is has an $8 at-the-door fee and is only open to those 21 and over. Kaminski is expecting quite a crowd, with everybody sure to have a good time and make new friends.
“I guess it’s true what they say: If you ‘accio’ it, they will come.”
[EDIT] We originally listed the event as free; this year, there is an $8 fee.