Harry Potter Back-to-School Feast succeeds with great entertainment

(Photo by Caitlyn Massy | Collegian) Playing Ginny Weasley, Maureen Barry, sophomore in economics, expresses her love for Harry to a small audience member at the Harry Potter dinner in the Great Room in Hale Library on Saturday.

Harry Potter enthusiasts enjoyed an English dinner, improvisation show and other authentic activities at the first-ever “Harry Potter Back-to-School Feast” on Saturday night in Hale Library.

Students and community guests were greeted by “talking portraits” who explained that it was necessary to “follow the spiders” that were laid out from the library entrance to the Great Room on the third floor of the library.

Inside the Great Room, also called the “Harry Potter room” by many K-State students, tables were set up in long rows to mirror the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s Great Hall.

House flags from each of the Hogwart’s houses- Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw- adorned the walls of the hall.

The event began with an appearance from Lori Goetsch, Dean of K-State Libraries, on the Great Room’s balcony to review the “house rules”- something traditionally done by the school’s headmaster in the Harry Potter books.

One house rule included the “first floor of Anderson Hall being strictly forbidden,” similar to the third floor of Hogwarts being off limits in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

A long line formed inside the Great Room as attendees sought the chance to have the “sorting hat” assign them into one of the four school houses, like in the Harry Potter series. It was a popular activity, and was a favorite of McKayla Peelen, sophomore in business administration.

“The sorting hall was really cool, along with the improv show,” Peelen said.

Peelen and her sister, Morgan Peelen, graduate student in social sciences, saw the Facebook post about the event and said they immediately had to figure out what it was all about.

Both dressed in Harry Potter attire.

“It’s the best use I’ve gotten out of my graduation robe,” Morgan Peelen said.

Manhattan’s On the Spot Improv group also performed at the event. The group started with a sorting hat game where four members acted out a scene while a fifth guessed what Hogswart house they represented. They then did a theater round, improvising their own Harry Potter story. All of their acts were done using English accents.

Lyndi Stucky, event co-chair and senior in mass communications, said the On the Spot performance was definitely the most popular part of the night. She even had to cue them that time was running short because they were so into it.

“Overall, it was good for a starting event,” Stucky said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully growing and improving it for next year.”

The evening’s dinner included rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, pretzel wands, “Polyjuice Potion” and “Butterbeer.” Polyjuice potion is used in the series to allow users to assume the appearance of another; butterbeer is a popular drink sold in the wizarding village of Hogsmeade.

Philip Nel, university distinguished professor of English, read a scene from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” while utlilizing different character voice impersonations. Nel connected the restrictions of Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge with the recent social media policies of the Kansas Board of Regents.

During his reading, Nel emphasized a quote series author J.K. Rowling gave in a Harvard University commencement speech in 2008.

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already,” he quoted.