The Head Wizards and Prefects of Wizard Way of the Ozarks feel that it's very important for us to continually acknowledge that Transgender and Non-binary people are a valid and a very integral and valued part of the Potterverse Fan Community.
If you've been following JKR's thoughts and statements throughout the past few years, it may have left you feeling very disappointed, betrayed, and even angry, as it did us and many of the actors and crew that worked on the films. For over 20 years now, the collective 'we' have built an indestructible community together. Countless people have used these books and fan fiction to explore their own identities while spreading love and acceptance. Needless to say, we see the underlying themes in the series to be very contrary to JKR's words of ignorance. We personally have family, friends, and loved ones who identify as transgender or non-binary, so we can firmly say that a verbal act of abuse against those folks is one against all of us.
Wizard Way of the Ozarks is an event celebrating the experience of fandom and the long histories, nostalgia, and love that has (for many of us) been part of the better portion of our lives. While we focus on the Potterverse, we are not endorsed or sanctioned by JKR or WB. In fact, the values our community holds close are very much opposed to the fear and hatred that JKR has been spreading about members of the trans and non-binary communities in recent years.
We will continue to celebrate the literature we all love, not only joyfully but also critically, and we will not shy away from discussing complex topics, especially those that affect marginalized communities. We want folks that attend our festival to explore and express themselves without fear. It’s a central part of our mission to make our spaces safe and welcoming. Anyone that encounters otherwise should contact us immediately so we can make sure it doesn't happen again.
Our shared love of stories brought us together and for that we are forever grateful. Remember though that this community is about something much bigger than the idolization of one flawed person. We will focus on the happiness and joy that comes from our shared interests, passions, and experiences, and we will not merit or endorse ignorance.
If you didn't know, the folks that put on this little festival have lived most of their lives in our ordinary world, in ordinary jobs, in the cozy but ever expanding Ozarks. The outside eye might see this place as void of magic, but we've spent most of our lives looking for and FINDING it here. There are so many places in NWA that make it special.
In 2017, as 30-somethings with a deep love of a special wizarding fandom and hearts for making a difference, we had no clue what we were doing. It started with an idea, two life long friends, one of their willing husbands, and after a call for help some ESSENTIAL willing souls who would soon become friends (not just willing volunteers) who wanted to bring wizard-inclined nerds together to enjoy something we not only all had a common language for but something that was also tied to so much nostalgia. The divisions during this time were strong in the world, especially the US, and we needed some sort of salve for the wounds that had been created.
We went from the festival idea to reality in the span of 4 months with a shoe string budget and a 'can do' attitude. We thought perhaps we could get 200 people together to raise a little money to cover the cost of the venue and donate to a local nonprofit, but as the story goes, we were blown away by the response and the first year we had close to 2000 people attend!
The first DiaCON Alley of the Ozarks had some hiccups but overall it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. It even won an ALFIE Award! We had so much fun that we did it all again in 2019 and during those two years we were able to donate thousands to the NWA Children's Shelter, Arkansas Support Network, and hundreds to a couple other nonprofits that participated as part of the festival.
The photo here is from a group of some of the ladies who almost all met each other and developed friendships because of these events. In January 2020 we went on this trip and had THE BEST time a mere month and a half before the world shut down in 2020. A little over a mere month and a half until we were supposed to have our 3rd annual Wizard Way of the Ozarks. You know how the story goes from here - the reschedules, the changes, the waiting. It's been 2 years now and we are more than ready to pick up where we left off, as safely as we can. We feel lucky that we've been able to 'keep the lights on' so to speak over these last two years, mostly because of all of YOU holding onto your tickets, and the kindness and collaboration of Experience Fayetteville, our venues, vendors, and entertainers. Thanks for hanging in there with us. Let's make Wizard Way of the Ozarks 2022 the best yet! Asbell Elementary PTO is the beneficiary for this year's donation and we want to put in our best effort!
Your friends in magic,
Wizard Way of the Ozarks Prefects