The Columbus Magi-Fest is No More

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/12 10:46 AM

Big shock this morning when I received this:

March 11, 2012

Dear friends:

The Columbus MAGI-FEST has had a great run of 80 years (81 conventions). And while we hoped to see the 100th, for now weve decided its time to retire the MAGI-FEST convention.

This decision did not come easy, and there were several factors in the decision. The redcoats have a strong friendship we are like a second family to each other. Weve all watched our kids (and even some grandkids) grow up at MAGI-FEST, and we thank you for being a part of their lives and for the wonder that we and they got to experience these many years. We finished the convention in the black,
able to pay all our bills and refund money to those who pre-registered for 2013.

While we had plans in place to have our 82nd convention in 2013, we decided to change our plans after further reflection. We see some potential headwinds that could affect the quality and financial health of future conventions. These include:

Long-time, loyal attendees who are aging out faster than younger registrants are coming in
The downturn in the U.S. economy over the past few years
Financial pressure on the convention due to increasing costs and insurance requirements, while keeping registration, food, and lodging costs affordable to attendees

We are all very sad to retire the MAGI-FEST, but we want to do so on our terms as a quality, family friendly convention, at an affordable price, that was fair to all who participated.

We also wish to thank our wonderful staff: Tony Dolciato, Randal Fath, Mike Heniken, Steven Kline, the Krech kids, Glenn Mackie, Red Penley, and Mike Sanderson. We appreciate their tireless dedication and support more than they know. They are the ones who made it happen at show time.

Thank you again for all your support, love, and friendship for these many years. We hope to see you again in the future.

With warmest regards,
The board of directors of the Columbus Magic Club, Inc.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/12 10:47 AM

So, even though attendance was down in January, the convention was still a good one and I'm really shocked by this.
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Postby Doomo » 03/13/12 11:05 AM

Funny thing is, I spoke to someone who is high up in the organization. He said it was one of their best... NO mention of ending it....
RFA Productions yeah... It is cool stuff.

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Postby Diego » 03/13/12 11:57 AM

It was a long, (and good) run...started by Robert Nelson and Syl Reilly, and continued by others thru the years. The Red Coats were a very dedicated group and worked tirelessly year after year.

When I did a lecture on Robert Nelson at the 1998 Magi-Fest, they were all very helpful and supportive.
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Postby Matthew Field » 03/13/12 12:36 PM

A shame.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 03/13/12 12:54 PM

Sorry to hear this.

I have never been, though I have heard great things.

I think it is indicative of our times. Small conventions will be really a tough ask to organise at an affordable price.

I know from co running Shenanigans you really need to become a master juggler to keep all the balls in the air. People who organise conventions, particularly those run them from their hearts rather then their pocket deserve all the respect in the world.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/12 01:01 PM

The Magi-Fest was not small: until last year or the year before, it regularly drew 800 people. This year it was just over 500.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/13/12 01:21 PM

In its heyday, we had 1,400 at our IBM Conventions.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/12 01:24 PM

How many decades ago was that, Pete?
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Postby Nicholas Carifo » 03/13/12 05:52 PM

As a loyal attendee myself, I looked forward to the Magi-Fest each year more than Christmas... Even as a kid!

This morning, my email was full of friends shocked and saddened by this announcment.

My friend Ray Lucas put it best: "It's like a death in the family". And that's what my experience with the Magi-Fest has been over the years. Family.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/13/12 06:38 PM

Trying to confirm Magi-Fest history for the MagicPedia page.

Based on Linking Ring reports, was the first Magi-Fest convention in 1931 actually the IBM National Convention held in Columbus that year? Was the actual name "Magi-Fest" was not used until 1932?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/12 07:19 PM

I've been going regularly the past few years, and it was unexpected.

So, now three major conventions have ceased to exist:

The World Magic Seminar
Hank Lee's Cape Cod Conclave
The Columbus Magi-Fest

A shame.
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Postby Diego » 03/14/12 02:55 AM

Robert Nelson wrote that the 1931 IBM convention was so successful, He and Syl Reilly decided to put on another similar convention themselves. Nelson later said he coined the term, "Magi-Fest".
After Nelson and Reilly fell out, Reilly ran it and Nelson would sometimes be seen in the lobby of the hotel, socializing/networking, etc. Nelson would always have a large group over at his place the following Sunday after the convention.
For years, it was the first magic convention of the calender year, and often COLD outside.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/14/12 05:03 AM

Thanks Diego. I found an advertisement for Magi-Fest in the January 1932 Linking Ring: http://geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/MAGI-FEST
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 03/14/12 05:50 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The Magi-Fest was not small: until last year or the year before, it regularly drew 800 people. This year it was just over 500.


My bad. Showing my ignorance and I apologise.

If the big ones are folding what hope is there for the small ones?
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/14/12 03:49 PM

There are some "big" ones still drawing well. Blackpool, Magic Live, IMX, ane hopefully GENII's foray.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 03/14/12 04:36 PM

And long may these ones survive Pete.

It is my belief that for others to thrive the branding must be right. It is staggering to see the lack of quality in some of the websites and social media of some conventions.

I would suggest also for conventions to survive they really need to attract the younger guys & girls. This is difficult when your site looks like something from Yahoo GeoCities and you social media is poor or non existent.

Contrast some of the convention sites you see with the likes of IMX, EMC, Magic Con and indeed Richard's gig.

Obviously a website needs to be backed up by a good convention but still... appearance is key.

ps This isn't a critique of Magi-Fest just a general observation.

Respectfully

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Postby mai-ling » 03/14/12 08:17 PM

I was shocked too.
I was hoping to re-visit magifest.
One of my goals in retrieving a photo
of Uncle Jay and Dad performing the
double dollhouse, in which Jay was dressed
as a woman...which won them an award that
I have on display.

I have yet to tell dad.
very sad.
you will remember my name
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Postby Magician of Oz » 03/15/12 04:54 PM

I was most saddened to hear this news. It was almost as sad as learning that Hank Moorehouse had passed away last year. I began attending Magi-Fest in 1970 and went to many of them. I did manage to attend the 80th Magi-Fest and reconnect with Hank before his passing. Now, no more Hank and no more Magi-Fest. It is sad indeed and my memories of Al Goshman, Duke Stern, Paul Diamond and Hank Moorehouse will have to remain just that... Memories.
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Postby J Christensen » 03/15/12 07:39 PM

Very sad. The first magic convention I ever attended as a registrant was the Twenty-Fourth Annual Magi-Fest in February, 1955. What an experience for a young boy! To this day whenever I experience a bone-chilling gray winter day, perhaps with a few snow flurries, I think, What perfect weather for a magic convention. The site was the Neil House, a fine old hotel that added to the overall experience. Registration was $5. Twelve dealers operated from individual hotel rooms on the second floor: Ken Allen, Arlane, Joe Berg, Jack Chanin, Gemagic, The Marshalls, E. J. Moore, S. W. Reilly, Chet Roth, Satan, Regow, and Yohe. I remember buying several Fox Lake decks, the Fox Lake card assortment, and Miko. The Saturday afternoon close-up show was designated Table Magic. Another treat was having lunch in Mills Cafeteria just down High Street from the hotel.
The Saturday night show, staged at the nearby Masonic Temple Theater, was emceed by Jay Marshall, billed as direct from the Palace Theatre in New York City. The acts were the Imperial Eckam Family, Bob Ellis, Danny Johnson, Al Saal, Ken Allen, and Joy the Magician & Company. I recall Danny Johnson performing amazing close-up in the hotel coffee shop. What wonderful memories! I have since attended many magic conventions, but none made as great an impression as this first one.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 03/19/12 08:18 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:So, now three major conventions have ceased to exist:

The World Magic Seminar
Hank Lee's Cape Cod Conclave
The Columbus Magi-Fest

A shame.

I hadn't heard about Hank Lee's Conclave closing and recalled seeing this post when I got the April issue of GENII in today's mail. Hank's ad on p. 8 says "This can only mean one thing. It's time for this year's Cape Cod Magic Conclave. The 24th edition! I will be there and I hope you will be as well!"
Was the cancellation a very recent one?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/19/12 08:55 PM

Very recent.
From Hank's Website:

"For reasons both professional and personal, we have had to cancel this year's Cape Cod Magic Conclave. An extremely hard decision to make, but one in which we had little choice. If you are already registered for the 2012 event, you will be getting a letter from us very soon. We hope to continue the Cape Cod Conclave tradition in 2013, and hope you will plan to be with us."
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/19/12 09:11 PM

From http://www.magicjubilee2012.com/
IT IS WITH MUCH SADNESS THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO CANCEL THE MAGIC JUBLEE THIS YEAR.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/19/12 10:56 PM

Yes, Tony Spina is gravely ill and they had to cancel that convention.
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Postby Fredrick » 03/20/12 03:07 PM

Add the NW Magic Jamboree to the list of conventions. Stan Kramien is holding one more NW Magic Jamboree and then pulling the plug.
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