Witchfest haunts Charles City

By Thomas Nelson, tnelson@charlescitypress.com

Despite the rain, a line of around 50 people gathered outside the Charles City Chamber of Commerce Office to get a Witchfest gift bag and shop around the city Saturday morning.

Deena Graeser and Linda Vandeventer were the first two people in line and held on to their spots in the rain with their umbrellas for 40 minutes.

“We’ve done Chickfest, Witchfest, Elf fest, we’ve done all of them,” Graeser said. “We always try to be up front.”

Graeser and Vandeventer both started waiting in line around 8:20 a.m. for the doors to open at 9 a.m.

“We love just going around doing a girl’s day out,” Graeser said.

Both Graeser and Vandeventer’s favorite part of the day is the goodie bag that’s given to the first 100 adult shoppers through the door at the Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce.

The line for the Witchfest grab bags stretched down to the Rustic Corner, and included Summer King, celebrating her fourth birthday at the event.

“We let her come out here in costume so she can run around and have fun for her birthday,” despite the rainy weather, said Micaela Stillions.

Witchfest has been a staple of Charles City for about five years, growing from the popularity of Chickfest, which is Charles City’s largest shopping day.

Shoppers got into the mood by dressing up in their favorite pointy black hat and witch’s garb, along with other halloween costumes. 

The 17 participating Witchfest locations around town were: Artwear/Birdie & Bo’s, Charles City Electronics, Comet Bowl, Darbe & Co. Boutique, Hy-Vee, Lidd & Cordray, LuLaRoe Retailer Hannah Pogemiller, North Iowa Coins, Otto’s Oasis, R.M. Granet, Saxony, Schiller Fine Art Photography & Framing, Schueth Ace Hardware, Stitches, The Furniture Barn, The Rustic Corner and Tupperware by Shazam! Enterprises!

“Everybody’s welcome to take part in it,” said Charles City Chamber of Commerce Director Mark Wicks. “Participants get to take advantage of additional promotion publicity.”

Witchfest has brought in shoppers from Decorah and Des Moines, Wicks said.

“It’s just a way to have fun and promote our fabulous retail shops,” Wicks said. “You just have to go out and walk in the door and experience it.”

Schiller Fine Art Photography & Framing took photos for the Witch Costume Contest.

“It’s not just stopping in and checking out the merchandize — we have great merchandize — it’s the people who serve you, the people you get to meet,” Wicks said. “It’s a fun experience to go and check things out.”

The Charles City Retail Committee came up with the idea for Witchfest and made it happen, Wicks said.

“They do a tremendous job,” Wicks said.