In October 2019, the Ontario OWOW Magic Festival appeared in Fergus, Ontario, Canada and featured world-acclaimed magicians. Here's the first annual celebration of world-class magic and magicians.
AT A GLANCE:
Inaugural OWOW Magic Festival appeared Oct 24 - 27, 2019
A seven-day celebration of magic
Magic festival public shows and magician-only convention
Elora-Fergus, located in the Township of Centre Wellington, have deep historical roots in the world of magic.
Elora is home to the Canadian Association of Magicians.
Coincides with Monster Month, a month-long celebration of Halloween
Produced by Theatrix International Inc
Recently a small but mighty team of magicians produced the first annual Ontario Week of Wonder OWOW Magic Festival held in downtown Fergus.
Our goal was to create a unique, modern, experience-based magic festival with personality. We showcased these experiences and world-acclaimed guests on the backdrop of our stunning township.
WATCH: Ryan Joyce Performing Magic on Breakfast Television
The Very First OWOW Magic Festival
We organized our first three-day magic festival and convention in 2019. This was before the pandemic hit. It was a four-day festival featuring five stage shows, two parlour shows, and believe it or not, the first-ever Magic Show Livestream!
How the pandemic has changed things.
The OWOW Festival scheduled magicians performing table-to-table at local restaurants, secret sessions for magicians, world-class gala magic shows at the Fergus Grand Theatre and exclusive private events around town.
This year we featured twelve internationally acclaimed magicians, Stephen Bargatze, Michael Close, Greg Frewin, Carisa Hendrix, Rick Merrill, Paul Romhany, Jay Sankey, Nicholas Wallace, Owen Anderson, Ryan Joyce, Cody Moynihan, Peter Mennie, Graemazing Reed and Ed Stone.
We took our festival to the curtain-line and online. At 9:31 pm on October 31st, OWOW and Theatrix debuted Wonder Town Halloween Magic Livestream, earning 1500+ views in the first 24 hours.
Live segments from Wonder Town were filmed at the OWOW Magic Festival and edited into the thirty-minute world-premiere Livestream.
All this magic was on the backdrop of one of Ontario's hottest tourist destinations, just one hour from Toronto.
WATCH: A township built on wonder and imagination
Located in Centre Wellington
Fergus and neighbouring Elora are located in the Township of Centre Wellington. The area has earned international attention from National Geographic, BlogTO, and filming locations for countless blockbuster movies.
Centre Wellington has deep historical roots in the world of magic. The most significant was the founding of The Canadian Association of Magicians by Joan Caesar on March 15, 1997.
While Elora and Fergus are bursting with natural wonder and stunning landscapes-- it has a monster problem.
The area is very magical.
For a whole month, the area becomes a wicked combination of Hocus-Pocus colliding with Harry Potter.
Ghosts hanging off buildings and thirty-one days of ghastly events all climax with a parade of the dead called Monster March.
Now, a spell has been cast on the world of magic. A community just one hour from Toronto has become a hotspot for internationally-acclaimed magic.
Let me share some details from this year's OWOW Magic Festival, a magician convention and a magic festival combined.
Highlights from 2019 OWOW Magic Festival
Photo Gallery: OWOW Magic Festival Secret Sessions
Ontario Week of Wonder 2019 Media Coverage
As Featured On
Thursday, October 24 - Hypnotist Ryan David featuring Cody Moynihan, Mentalist
Thursday night, we kicked off at the Fergus Grand Theatre with a hypnotic comedy show starring my alter-ego, Ryan David and opening the show was mentalist Cody Moynihan.
This was Cody's first return to the stage in a few years due to complications from an injury. He did a fantastic job, and everyone's minds were blown!
Here's a sneak peek from the wings.
We also had Michael Craig Francis, aka Awesome Mike performing at the Breadalbane Inn and entertaining patrons.
Friday, October 25 - Convention Kick-off & Opening Night Canadian Grand Champions of Magic & Witching Hour Close-Up Show
Friday was the official festival kick-off and welcome.
For magicians, our convention registration opened at the Fergus Library in the early afternoon. We welcomed magicians worldwide, including Vancouver, Chicago, New York, Michigan, Tennesse, Ottawa, Calgary, and Mexico City!
Following a quick introduction, Carisa Hendrix was welcomed for an informative talk called "Lessons Learned from Lost Luggage." She shared insights and ideas from her recent travel nightmares.
She gave a great talk filled with valuable information for every magician.
Nicholas Wallace came up next for a quick interview about his experiences on Penn & Teller's Fool Us and America's Got Talent. Jay Sankey followed with a few words about his Fool Us experience, and before breaking for dinner, we all celebrated Paul Romhany's birthday with cake and a song.
After dinner, all eyes turned to the Fergus Grand Theatre for the festival's first big show, the Canadian Grand Champions of Magic featuring Lucy Darling (Carisa Hendrix), Jay Sankey, Nicholas Wallace and Greg Frewin.
Lucy Darling was welcomed to the stage and hosted that evening's performance. Lucy Darling was dazzling and magical. Her magic, character and comedy were spot-on and a massive hit with the audience.
We filmed a quick bit off the top for the Livestream, and then my onstage partner Jenna Oxley joined me onstage.
Following the filming, Lucy took to the stage and introduced Nicholas Wallace. From the moment the curtain opened, Nicholas riveted the audience. He's creepy. Magical, but very, very creepy.
Jay Sankey was introduced next, presenting some of the incredible close-up magic that has helped earn his reputation. Greg Frewin drove home the Canadian Grand Champions Gala show with high-energy magic and illusions.
Standing ovation and an invitation to patrons to join us at a local pub for the next event called The Witching Hour. A close-up show features Paul Romhany, Carissa Hendrix and Michael Close.
Paul opened the show with a killer rope routine and kicked things off with a bang. Carisa came up next and shared some incredible close-up magic, and Michael Close brought the evening to a close, frying everyone's mind in the way only Michael can do.
It was a fantastic ending to a very magical first day.
Photo Gallery: Friday, October 25
Saturday, October 26 - Convention Day 2 and International Stars of Magic and Magician VS Parlour Show
Saturday began on the third floor of the Fergus Library with a lecture from Paul Romhany. Paul has travelled the world performing his magic and mentalist but is best known for his Charlie Chaplin magic act. He's also the founder of Vanish Magazine, the world's largest magazine for magicians and the art of magic. Paul shared an incredible lecture filled with original ideas and working material from his show.
There was wisdom for everyone in the room.
Quick-fire sessions followed the morning lecture.
We started with a taped video interview with Renee-Claude Auclair from Quebec City. Renee-Claude and her husband Pierre are organizing FISM NACM, FISM 2021. They have also organized the Festival De Magie in Quebec City for over ten years.
Renee-Claude shared insight about the upcoming conventions, FISM and the historical events unfolding in Canada in 2020 and 2021
Continuing our competitive discussion, Joan Caesar shared tips for improving your act from a FISM judge's perspective and helpful ideas and suggestions to polish any magician's performance.
Up next, I shared a video of "The David Hoy Story: The Best Prank in Magic," as told by magic legend Walter Blaney, and Michael Close concluded the sessions with a few more of magic's best pranks.
A quick break for lunch and off to the Fergus Grand Theatre for an afternoon family magic show.
Outside the theatre was World-Record holding stilt walker Doug Hunt in full-form and Halloween make-up. He was a wonderful welcome for guests.
The seventy-minute family magic show was split by Owen Anderson and Peter Mennie, who both kept the kids mesmerized. A magical way to spend the afternoon with family.
After the family show, our magicians returned to the Library for an hour with Michael Close. Michael shared stories about the life of Johnny Thompson and working together on Fool Us. He ended the session by sharing tips for magicians getting on the television show. It was an incredibly informative discussion for everyone.
Michael's lecture concluded the day's OWOW educational events. We broke for dinner as our team prepared for the festival's International Stars of Magic Show featuring Stephen Bargatze, Rick Merrill, Paul Romhany, Jay Sankey, and Ed Stone, hosted by Michael Close.
The show opened with a quick welcome from yours truly and a presentation of The OWOW Magic Festival Lifetime Achievement Award to Joan Caesar, founder of the Canadian Association of Magicians.
A well-deserved full-room standing ovation for Joan Caesar.
Our emcee, Michael Close, took over the stage and kept the audience in stitches. He welcomed Ed Stone, who presented a captivating piece of mentalism with a volunteer's hand and a tarantula!
Rick Merrill blew everyone's mind with his FISM Award Winning act and hilarious "office-guy meets world-class magician" character. Stephen Bargatze took the stage next and owned the room with his unique comedic style and personality. Both were hilarious!
Next was an appearance from Jay Sankey, who returned to present even more close-up magic and amazement from his highly creative mind.
The show concluded with a performance from Paul Romhany, who charmed the entire audience with his signature Charlie Chaplin act, snow machines and a video tribute to Chaplin. A touching conclusion to the show!
We invited guests to once again join us at a local pub for our next event called Magician VS.
Magician VS is a magician-challenge show and world-premiere. Two magicians, three rounds, and one unusual predicament. Can these two magicians create magic with non-magic things? Hosted by Ed Stone and featuring Graeme Reed (aka Graemazing) and yours truly. Lots of magic, laughs, food and beer filled the room.
A festival tradition in the making.
Sunday, October 27 - Convention Day 3 and Family Show featuring Owen Anderson and Peter Mennie
Sunday began with a change of venue. This time a view from the stage of the Fergus Grand Theatre.
Our first-morning lecture was a combined lecture with Rick Merrill and Stephen Bargatze. Rick proves his wit is on par with his magic, a little above and dripping with sarcasm. Stephen shared incredible insights behind some of the routines from his show and working repertoire.
Real-world advice and world-class generosity from Rick and Stephen.
We concluded with one final round of quick sessions, answering the question, "What would you do if you started again?"
We heard business ideas from Peter Mennie, I added several tips for your branding and websites, and Carisa Hendrix wrapped things up with a great talk on character development. A great ending to our final session at OWOW.
There were only a few moments to say farewell as our team got ready for the festival's final performance, featuring Owen Anderson and Peter Mennie.
After one final show, we loaded out and parted ways after a successful first production of the Ontario Week of Wonder OWOW Magic Festival.
Overjoyed and sleightly overworked. Thanks to everyone who helped make this an incredible first OWOW.
We have already begun planning for next year's OWOW Magic Festival. Please visit magicfestival.ca sign-up for notices, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
PS: We saw the smoke signals from the magicians and identified growls from the monsters -- a magical covenant has been formed. The magicians are coming back.