As usual, we never know what we will find or how we might stumble upon it. Overhearing her hair stylist planning her weekend, Veronica learned about the big Magic Week Festival in Colon, Michigan.
Seemed strange to us that this little burg of 1,200 people would host a world renowned magic festival, but as we pulled into town a welcoming sign informed us that Colon is “The Magic Capitol of The World.” Oh. Still we couldn’t help but wonder why.
Well, there are reasons.
Back in 1926, the famous magician Harry Blackstone, Sr. came to Colon to set up a headquarters and workshop for his Blackstone Magic Show. The next year he teamed up with Australian magician Percy Abbott and formed the Blackstone Magic Company here, which later became the Abbott Magic Company, the world’s foremost maker of magic tricks, doodads and paraphernalia.
The festival, officially “Abbott’s Magic Get-Together,” began in 1934 when the company tried to boost sagging sales with an open house. It seems to have worked, that year eighty magicians showed up. These days over a thousand professional and amateur illusionists participate, making Magic Week the largest convention of magicians in the world!
Blackstone and Abbott had a huge falling out, but the get-togethers continued and Blackstone always considered Colon home, still does, as he is buried there.
Our exposure to illusions began in Colon’s booming two blocks of downtown, decked out for the festivities. Several sorcerers were plying their trade right out on the sidewalks. Fantastic!
A little town like Colon can handle only so much. Clogged with the intake of all these extra people, it had trouble staying regular. Abbott’s Magic Company was closed as everyone was too busy with the festival, so we ran over to FAB Magic instead.
Inside we found great demonstrations of close slight-of-hand. Several magicians were executing their craft – we were privy to all sorts of abracadabras and alakazams while rings moved unaided, solid steel hoops intertwined, and classic card tricks deceived. A little misdirection and viola, magic.
We were able to convince one magician to let us in on his secret after an especially impressive card trick. The ingenious slight of hand was revealed, but he upped the ante with his signature stunt. His next illusion was not to be explained.
We witnessed one of the most impressive feats of magic imaginable, screw Copperfield making the pyramids disappear. This guy did the old “pick a card, any card,” but with a most amazing twist. There were no cards. The deck was “invisible,” completely in our minds, yet at the end of the trick he pulled the very card we had been thinking about from his shirt pocket. Believe me, your GypsyNesters discussed it for hours afterward and still have no idea what happened.
With our minds boggled, it was time to head over to the Colon High School, home of The Fighting Magi, for the big performance that serves as the grand finale of Magic Week. Call us wacky, but when we hear of Magi we think three wise men. Not in Colon, the mascot is a tough looking beefed-up bunny right out of a hat.
The gymnasium doubled as an auditorium, and it was packed. The show started with the emcee, Mike Caveney, doing a few tricks and bringing on the headliners Tina Lenert, John Carney, Chris Hart and David Williamson. As Mr. Caveney noted in his introduction, there could be no tougher crowd for these entertainers than hundreds of other magicians, because they know the secrets, but we were flat astounded.
Two of the performers particularly stood out to us, Tina Lenert, with a graceful, humorous and stunning combination of mime, comedy and illusion, and David Williamson with sheer madness. Williamson’s act ran a mile a minute with audience members, mostly kids, being fooled, cajoled and even picked up and moved. By the end, when he did a head count, it seemed a few had disappeared. No word on if they turned up, we assume they did since no police were called in to investigate.
After the show it has become a tradition to gather at Colon’s only bar, Papa Mancino’s, for some refreshments and close magic. Many of the get-together’s participants meandered through from table to table demonstrating their best deceptions… usually in exchange for a libation.
By the end of the evening, so many cards had been shuffled, dealt, picked and tricked that the street was filled with them, but fear not, the next morning, like magic, they were gone.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com