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PotterCon Baltimore: You’re a wizard, hon!

Years after the last original Harry Potter book and movie have been released, dedicated fans are more ecstatic than ever to bring the magical fantasy world into reality and relive those nostalgic feelings from their childhoods. Midnight book releases and movie premieres were pivotal events back then, but now fan-run conventions are the way to go.

The sold-out, small crowded Baltimore Soundstage had limited decorations and festivities, but still a good try for a non-affiliated, fan-run convention. Although it wasn’t like PotterCon attendees were walking straight into Harry Potter World in Florida, the advantage was the lack of kids who were born after the first three books and movies running about.

What attendees did see running about were a slew of costumed fanatics, who can at least recall a short time in their life before any of the Harry Potter franchise existed. These costumes ranged from people simply wearing jeans and an HP t-shirt from Hot Topic, to fanatics who all but resorted to drinking Polyjuice potion (for all non-Potterheads, that means they were pretty much spot-on).

The highlight of the night was the costume contest, which was open to any contestants for $5. All of the money from the contest was donated to 826DC, a nonprofit in D.C. that helps inspire and support writing skills of children in elementary to high school — something J.K. Rowling would raise a Butterbeer to.

It was a close call with attendees who dressed up as students from each house, cooky professors, adorable house elves paired with a single sock, Death Eaters in head to toe black lace and leather, mythical creatures and one particular dark wizard who must not be named.

Third place was awarded to a contestant dressed up as Newt Scamander from “Fantastic Beasts,” and second place, to a group of three students/professors with their respective magical pets. In first place was the reporter, Rita Skeeter, with spot-on attire and an impressive 100 percent immersion into character throughout the entire event. Complete with blonde curls, cat-rimmed glasses and quill and paper, she even mastered the accent and mannerisms as she walked the crowd and accepted her prize on stage.

The rest of the night was filled with stories of how PotterCon came to be, a house sorting ceremony with a slightly intoxicated Dumbledore as co-host and trivia that only the completely dedicated readers and movie-watchers could know. There was also a moment of mourning, when a presentation was projected on a screen to show all of the fallen book/movie characters. Event-goers raised their wands in respect (yes, actual character wands can be bought online or in HP World), but they occasionally booed when the lesser favored of the bunch appeared.

Like any year at Hogwarts, there was a popularity contest between the houses, fighting for the acclaimed House Cup. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin event-goers were given tickets for each activity they participated in, which they could then use to vote for their selected house. Although the crowd dwindled with each event, staying until the very end gave the night closure that was worth the money. It was a close race, but of course, Gryffindor prevailed like they always do.