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Magic still conjures crowd

August 17, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - In this age of video games and instant information, you would think that interest in magic would be vanishing into thin air.

You'd be wrong.

The Festival of Magic is proof that illusions and sleight of hand still can draw a crowd.

Young, old and all ages in between arrived Saturday afternoon at The Maryland Theatre, ready to be mystified.

The show was sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, King Ring No. 94.

This is the third consecutive year for the show, said Grant Berry, past president of the local magic club and director of Saturday's event.

The show had been held annually for many years, but disappeared from the stage about a decade ago, Berry said. Since its revival, it has continued to attract large numbers of magic fans from across the Tri-State area.

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The reason is simple, he said. "People love magic."

Saturday's show featured five magicians performing everything from making rabbits and birds appear to walking through a wall.

Among the featured magicians was Frank Culler of Waynesboro, Pa.

Culler said he liked magic as a child, but didn't learn magic until he was 27 years old.

"I started out doing small things, like coin tricks," he said. "Then, I moved on to bigger things."

Culler said he has been performing magic for about 19 years, but it became his only full-time job seven years ago.

"You can make a career as a magician," he said. "I do schools, parties, special events and do a lot of traveling. Last night, I was in Ocean City (Md.). Today, I'm here. But I love what I do. There's never a day when I don't enjoy going to work."

After all these years of performing, Culler said he still is amazed at how much people enjoy magic.

"I always have very enthusiastic crowds," he said. "They're always fascinated."

With magicians such as Criss Angel bringing their acts to television, interest in magic is on the upswing, especially among young people, Culler said.

"Look at all of the teenagers who are here today," he said. "You normally wouldn't see kids from that age group at a magic show. But here they are."

Berry said he, too, has seen an increase in the number of young people getting involved in magic.

"There's a new face to magic," he said. "The good thing is there will always be another generation coming along to keep it going."

Among those attending Saturday's Festival of Magic was Michael Sigl, who brought his daughter, Claire, 6, for an afternoon of fun.

"She loves magic," he said. "Whenever there's a magic event, I try to take her. She loves watching it on TV."

John Grove of Williamsport said he was invited to the show by his brother, who is president of King Ring No. 94.

He was accompanied by his son, Maddux, 8, and his son's friend, Jordan Row, 8, who both love magic.

"We're going to try to figure out how they do their tricks," Maddux said.

But Stephanie Blaine, 7, of Hagerstown, who attended the show with her grandmother, wasn't sure that would be easy to do.

"I think these magicians are really, really good," she said. "I've tried to do magic, and you know what? It's hard."

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