End of Magifest: UPDATE

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Seanhawk23, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. 13.03.2012 283: 5-Kumk'u, 7-Kaban

    I suppose a diary entry like this is better reserved for something on pen-and-paper, something that is private and safe to hold in one's heart. However, I think that at least part of it is relevant to the magic community and in all fair honesty, I believe that if I have the capacity to give others a reason to have faith in humanity, then I will. Whether the reader is or isn't interested as they pass through this forum matters not to me, and I stress that I do not merely write this as a cry for attention (well, your mileage may vary as to that), or as practice for a 6-points worth GRE essay, but to take a moment of silence to ponder the true meaning of the art that we call magic.

    Today on March 13, 2012, it was announced through email, twitter, and their webpage that the Columbus Magi-Fest, which had been running for over 80 years already, will no longer continue its run. This means that the 2013 Magi-Fest is cancelled and the pre-registration fees will be refunded to the registrants (in fact, refund checks are already arriving in the mail as we speak). This is their exact message as given on their webpage:

    As it stands, many have mourned the loss of this great convention, a fact that I am privy to, having just gotten back from calling the former Magi-Fest director Jep Hostetler. In expressing my feelings about this, I told him everything. Guessing from the title, I suppose this is as far as you'll go before closing the page or at least replying, and I'm sorry if you develop any hard feelings for me, what with me being the one to announce this to the forums. But the convention had its good run, and in all fair honesty, it was the one place to give me happiness.

    Many would probably merely regard the retirement of Magifest as at least an inconvenience, at worst a reason for brooding resentment. But after having given some thought to this matter and accepting the loss, I began to wonder about the real nature of what makes magic so - how do I call this - cool. Introspectively, I decided to start the journey from my own happiness.

    I suppose I should start from the beginning.

    Those who attended the convention might remember a certain Eric Jones, who ran the Ellusionist booth at the site. This was the primary reason I chose to come this year, wishing to re-establish a bond that I had made with him 2 years back at the 2010 Magifest (apart from my blindingly obvious stupidity in not having the Extension of Me DVD set that I bought from him signed right then and there). As I arrived at the Renaissance Hotel, Razor A4 scooter in hand, I paid the registration (well, Jep himself actually) $20 for the close-up show and the dealer room alone (after all, where else did I want to go?). Like a bull charges at the matador's cape, I made a beeline to the dealer room and to Eric's booth only to be met with disappointment at his absence. Oh well. Might as well hit the close-up show that I was late for anyway. I watched 5 of the 6 performers, culminating in David Roth's coin routines. Well, I enjoyed them as much as I could, what with ducking out of the room every time the magician finished so that he could autograph my messenger bag.

    Well once I was out, Eric had indeed shown up and we met with a very warm welcome. I'd updated him on my current situation, thanking him feverishly for the opportunity for us to meet just for that one time. We downed FUEL 7-Hour Extra Strength energy shot, just like old times (well actually in 2010 we had Wild Berry Rockstar shot, they all taste the same). We showed each other stuff and I asked about the Infinity Deck from Ellusionist, at which he gave me his on the house. Soon afterwards, I showed him my most prized possession: a rosary made with hematite beads and on the end, an Ellusionist Artifact coin that had a Karate hole cut into it by Roy Kueppers himself. All this in front of Justin Miller as well; suffice it to say that (after staring at the two-page long explanation of the symbology of the necklace) they asked for one of their own each. Also, as they both work for E, they assured me that they would put in a good word for me with Mr. Brumbalow (WOW!). As for the coins they would need for their own necklace, well, naturally they rounded on Schoolcraft, who was right across the E booth. Heh, I guess if Roy made this necklace, Schoolcraft would have to make my engagement gift (as in get-down-on-one-knee-and-ask-"will you marry me?" engagement). Before I left for good, though, I have to admit that my audaciity in telling them about the existence of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the whole brony community might have been a bad and awkward mistake. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.

    I suppose that the not-so-brief recollection of the four hours I spent there may have been a bit entertaining (or not) depending on your tastes. But how is this relevant to the main topic of discussion? I don't know if others who are reading this might feel the same way, but as I had fervently expressed to everyone involved, I was truly thankful for the mere opportunity for being there. Thankful for the support that others were able to provide, thankful for the camaraderie that came with the field of illusion, something that could not be achieved through a mere social network online, but could only be experienced in a setting that a magic convention could provide. I'd forgotten how much others of our kind were willing to reach out and watch my back when real life could not, especially at a time when I needed any help I could get. The taste of this life I had before, this world I created for myself, is worth more than even the most expensive and limited-edition products, tricks, DVDs or decks of cards money could buy. In a sense, the four hours of bliss and happiness I was able to spend at Magifest are perhaps the most valuable treasure I could claim to own pertaining to the art of illusion, and all this for a mere $20! Others would probably scoff that all I bought were a paltry assortment of decks of cards and an Okito voodoo doll, but these are tokens that tie me to that treasured time, as is the rosary.

    They say that the art of magic is addictive, but during a time when I've been away from it long enough for the rest of this world to lose its color, this convention brought back some of that color, reminding me that life is truly worth living for.

    When it comes to this Sean Skyhawk, there was the human behind the mask, one who virtually had no support from his family pertaining to matters academic or magical, one that was curbed and restrained from the art out of fear of me falling into obsession, one who actually attempted to take his own life a few times. He had to pretend to live in a world of grey (no offense to Master Daniel Madison) while suffering under the crushing pain that repeated travails struck him with.

    On the other side of the coin, there is the free bird that exemplifies the very definition of illusionist. Admittedly I'm not very good at it, but in a sense, magic was a life I could call my own in order to escape the more crapsack aspects of reality that show up more and more often as we endure 2012. Here, in a colorful world of cards, coins, and white bunny rabbits, you could do anything. In a sense, the field became my refuge. It became my world.

    That, by ourselves, our kind could be trapped so deep in the pain of reality that we lost sight of what was real is truly heartbreaking. That we joined hands and built the world of magic for ourselves over years, no, DECADES, is perhaps the most admirable thing to come out of magic. It is said that there are 10 theories, 10 styles, 10 Elements of Harmony in illusion. Some say the 11th was "community". Some were disappointed about the ultimate answer to the question "What is Theory 11?".

    [continued in subsequent post]
  2. But if you ask me, I believe that this aspect of community is more important than any that came before it, more important than mentalism, more important than sawing a girl in half or escaping from a straightjacket, heck, more important than all these combined. Where would we be without it? Crappy birthday parties?

    In any case, magic isn't just about vanishing the Statue of Liberty, bending forks and displaying psychic powers, or about debunking con artists the world over. It's more than just a trunkful of decks of cards, props, and DVDs. It's more than the online war against piracy of products. It's about the light that we shed upon this dark world from within our hearts. The light that comes when the spectator screams in wonder. The light when you receive a product through the mail or when you teach an effect to someone else. The light that comes when magicians can just hang out and laugh together. Now that, my fellows, is magic.

    So ask yourself this:

    What kind of happiness have you found in magic lately?
  3. Many people knew this was coming for Magifest. The location of the Renaissance was the first big major mistake. A place like that requires big time cash to lock in on the date for a yearly contract. When the Magifest crew is in the black, clearly they cannot afford to lock in on such dates for the hotel and a theater. The second problem was...guess what? Location. The price for registrants to stay at that type of hotel was through the roof as well as a parking deck fee and throw in a few tips. To eat anywhere near you were going to shell out a good amount of money. Registration alone was insane. Less and less registrants were showing up each year because of this in the past 2 years. I went 2 years ago and spent nearly $400 easily and only about $100 was on magic items in the dealer room.

    Young kids are not going to be able to have mommy and daddy float them a few hundred for a magic convention. It just doesn't happen.

    I know I didn't answer your question but just thought I'd throw in my two cents as I too heard through the grapevine this was coming. Hopefully they can get things turned around in the future. The committee needs to learn how to negotiate a bit more with their people they are booking as well as their hotels.

  4. You answered JUST like I thought other people would :-I

    In any case, it does explain a few things about the situation as a whole.

    But my real question is, do you also see the core message of my posting? Do you agree or disagree with my viewpoint and would you be able to clarify your perspective on the matter?

    Also, I sort of wonder what you thought of those four hours I spent :LOL:
  5. I went 1 year ago and blew the same amount ($400) on dealer room items. My parents were royally pissed at that.
  6. I understand the point of your message. Of course magic means a lot to me and I had a helluva time there but the bottom line is: you cannot operate in the black. The committee is upset that there are fewer and fewer young registrants taking the place of the once loyal old timers. In the old days the registration fee was not even close to that, people jammed in the lobbies until the wee hours of the morning, and the bar stayed open til closing. When I was there the bar shut down at midnight. It was me, Caleb Wiles, Asi Wind, Greg Wilson, Calen Morelli (as he pounded a pizza) Blake Vogt and a few other guys. Maybe 15 of us max.

    They missed their boat on the demographics study. You even said yourself that you blew $400 in the dealer room alone if I read that correctly. Throw in the price of everything else I mentioned and it is not a weekend that anyone under the age of 25 can even think about unless their parents have a ton of spending cash. That is the reason none of the guys in our local ring of 30 went back this year. That is why they can't get the younger generation of guys there.
  7. To each our own. (the $400 was totally worth it btw, and I... er... lied about my age to get a youth single-day pass). I agree that the prices were exorbitant (enough to justify making a year-long savings plan just for it), and that registration price would definitely be a turn off.

    However, the fact that I went for four years in a row is proof that it doesn't have to be that way for the younger generation. To my 18-year old self, well I use the word locked in a candy shop a lot to describe it, but in reality, it's like a kid jailed in Disneyland.

    With all due respect, you seem to have a lot of resentment for the place (please do correct me if I'm wrong) and their perceived incompetence in dealing with the overall behavioral patterns of the magic population, if your failure to address the real concern that I wrote this entry for is any indication (no offense). I understand if you have your own point of view about the whole Magifest situation; in fact, reading your entries is quite illuminating and as I mentioned before, answers a lot of questions. All that aside, though, no one can deny that to at least some people, a magic convention can very well be considered the pinnacle of contentment throughout one's journey in the field. I'm sorry if you feel jaded by some of the nasty things this art has produced (I should know... :().

    Again, I apologize if my tone seems too abrasive; please don't take this the wrong way.
  8. So your primary point of view pertains to how much money is being spent on the experience, I get that. It's easy to understand how an otherwise enjoyable experience is ruined by how much you had to pay for it, especially considering the more experienced magicians out here. However, I speak from the point of view of a person... who, well, considers the experience as a whole priceless enough to justify the cost. Of course, that I got lucky in my fees definitely plays a factor. That's why I did not focus on this issue (and would not even if I had known how important that factor was in determining popularity).
  9. No offense taken. I just think they ruined a good thing and I completely agree with your statement of a kid "jailed at Disneyland" ha ha. That is how I felt as well. I love magic conventions. Try the Abbott's get together in August as well.

    Have you ever been to my club's convention? Here is the link. Very reasonably priced and still an awesome time.
  10. I'll look into it. :)

    Alright, now the real important question. What about your viewpoint on my statement as to the purpose of the art? Do you agree/disagree?

    Also, did you find my account entertaining? :D
  11. Oh wow, THAT year? Did Asi tell you about the plush owl? It was mine :)
  12. I am very happy to announce that the Magi-Fest is back and with a stellar line up too! Joshua Jay and myself have taken on the convention and have a whole list of great performers booked, including:

    • Dani DaOrtiz
    • Justin Willman
    • John Guastaferro
    • Justin Flom
    • Mahdi Gilbert
    • Troy Hooser
    • Peter Pitchford
    • And many more still to be announced

    The convention runs January 24 - 26 2013. More info can be found here: http://www.magifest.org/

  13. Andi,
    Can you please elaborate on what some of the differences will be from the way Josh and you are running it compared to years past? I've heard many rumors that there have been certain dealers asked not to come back (mainly the older generation ones) and that there is not a stage competition any more. Are there other major changes? Also, I was wondering why more of the performers are not being announced to draw in ticket sales. I know there are many people holding back because of some of these reasons. I understand the "surprise" factor but when everyone waits to see the full line up...then they get dinged with the higher registration fee.
  14. Hi Rick,

    The Magi-Fest is in need of a change for various business and format reasons. The Red Coats ran a great convention, but we are putting everything we can into running an even better convention! In order to grow an event that had dwindling numbers, changes are not only good, but they are essential.

    You are right that this year we are not having a competition. The reason is simple: that was the biggest drain on workloads and for our first year, we wanted to put everything into make the event great. Once we have achieved those goals, we plan to bring the competition aspect back, with emphasis on how we can attract some of the best magicians in the world to enter. One step at a time.

    With regards to how we are changing the dealers room, we are specifically approaching dealers who will help us create the most impressive, interesting and unique dealers room in the world. We have an opportunity to create something really special here, but that means that space in the dealers room is at a premium. Rest assured that the dealers room will contain a healthy balance of older dealers and modern dealers; all of whom offer something unique and interesting.

    There will be lots of changes; too many to list here. I sense by your post that you initially see these changes as a negative thing (apologies if I misinterpreted that). But let me assure you that we care a lot about the convention and are working hard to modernise it, whilst growing it back to its former glory. We aim to not just improve the Magi-Fest, but improve the format and experience of a magic convention in general. Our convention in the UK (The Session) has been the perfect place to hone some of our ideas (I have run it for eight years; each one a sellout) and I am excited to bring them to America.

    There are many reasons why not all performers have been announced yet, but the biggest one is contracts. With The Session, we often book performers two years in advance. We took the Magi-Fest on just a few months ago and therefore are still ironing out details with some performers. But we really have some great magicians to come; the latest of which is Mahdi Gilbert who we have just announced.

    Finally, one more change to tell you about. We have recently launched our Youth Scholarship where we are allowing dozens of young magicians (under twenty-ones) to attend for free. I know there are many great young magicians here and therefore we would love for you to join.

    I hope to see you there. I think you'll be very pleased and what we have put together and am excited to bring the Magi-Fest back and we intend to work hard grow it to one of the best conventions in the world.

  15. Magifest Update

    I am merging the old thread with any new information / comments on Magifest.
  16. It's odd, I grew-up roughly an hour from Columbus (actually lived in Columbus in my younger years) and have never attended the convention; I either had parental reasons for not going or was working. When I'd moved back to Springfield in the late 90's I simply had problems justifying the cash lay-out knowing Herman Carr was involved (that's an inside pun for anyone knowing said gent).

    I am glad however, to hear that new blood is taking over the convention and trying to salvage it in that it is a great institution that really deserves support. The famed Abbott Get-Together is likewise falling on hard times and it had an international pull for decades, but because the company itself refused to keep up with the times, everything around it is failing. . . we've seen this with other noted gatherings as well as brick & mortar operations -- without that infusion of youth, things wither.

    I hope you guys the best in this venture and more importantly, I hope the New Magi-Fest is even more successful

    BTW. . . hit up that Dentist there in Columbus that's collecting all the good stuff and his buddy Joel Z. Put them both to work for you.

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