On July 15, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 hits theaters, dealing the final Avada Kedavra to the biggest fantasy franchise of our generation. After watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione take on He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his evil cohorts one last time, fans everywhere will have a long broom ride home, surely basking in the afterglow of the beloved series' concluding moments, but also beginning to acknowledge that they may have to stash away their robes and wands for good this time.
That is, unless Amanda Burke has anything to say about it. As head organizer of the Aeternitas ConCom, a Harry Potter festival kicking off this weekend in Laconia, NH, Burke stresses that fandom need not fade after the final movie is released.
"As long as we love the series, and as long as we're all friends interested in the same type of thing, it doesn't have to go anywhere and it doesn't have to end," says Burke. "A lot of these other groups that hold Harry Potter conventions almost seem like they're planning — to stop in the next few years, whereas we're thinking, 'Why does it have to?' "
The official theme for Aeternitas — "Magic Is Forever" — aims to combat that depressing, back-to-our-normal-lives fatalism. "It's all about taking what J.K. Rowling gave us and making it our own," says Burke.
Academically inclined Hermiones can feed their intellect at roundtable workshops on such diverse topics as the art of fan fiction, Bellatrix Lestrange as J.K. Rowling's Jungian shadow, and what the phallic nature of the Elder Wand says about homoeroticism in the wizarding world (finally someone is talking about it).
The organizers have planned plenty of study-break opportunities as well, with DIY sessions on dueling, wizard cooking, wand-making, and quidditch, not to mention a fashion show, two wizard-rock concerts — where else are you going to see the Remus Lupins and Madame Pince and the Librarians in one night? — and a never-before-seen Harry Potter–themed burlesque show.
All proceeds from Aeternitas will be split 50/50 between the Lung Cancer Alliance and the Harry Potter Alliance, the latter of which applies themes from the books to real-world situations with the hope of involving young people in social activism.
"The idea is that Harry saved the world," says Burke. "And you can, too."
Aeternitas 2011 takes place at the Margate Hotel in Laconia, NH, from April 28 to May 1. Day passes are available for $40 online at aeternitas2011.org and at the convention site.