Sometimes it’s easy to measure how much planning has gone into an event. In the case of the Harry Potter Festival, the “Master Book” of the Ministry of Magic (Oak Park Area Convention and Visitors Bureau) is over three inches thick. The “Volunteers Book” is two inches thick.

OPACVB Sales Manager Michelle Dirks has been working on the Potter book release event since late February, assisted by others in the office. She’s chaired more than 30 meetings, handled over 100 e-mails a day, made countless phone calls, and spent over $30,000 on supplies, printing, rentals, insurance, etc.

Dirks said, “I’ve coordinated with the Oak Park police, fire department, public works, and parks departments to ensure a safe, smooth event. Sponsors have agreed to help defray the cost of the festival. The OPACVB is also working to manage the time of over 200 volunteers, ranging from people who will dress in costumes, pose for pictures and sign autographs, to those who will set up tables and chairs, to those who will direct visitors to events and distribute maps and schedules.”

For Rich Carollo, executive director of the OPACVB, involving the visitors bureau in this festival was a natural idea; “This fits with our mission to bring people into town. This has a huge economic impact; and it shows us off well. It pushes the message of who we are and what we’re about as a tourist destination.

“For the Harry Potter Festival, we even developed a package for out-of-town guests, including lodging. At midnight, we’ll hand-deliver a copy of the book to their hotel room.”

-Duncan Brown

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