It was hard not to be amazed, baffled and delighted Wednesday at the first-ever Utah Art of Magic Festival.
The Provo City Library at Academy Square is known for its large volume of literary enjoyments. While a few patrons were quietly reading in the library portion of the building, just across the skywalk hundreds of children and adults were enjoying a different type of reading.
Magician Daniel Schaffer was reading people’s minds through two books during his magic show. He’d flip through a random book until a participant told him to stop on a page. From there, he’d ask them to open up a completely different book to the same page number. Without looking at the book, he’d ask the participant to silently read the first line on the page. Using his magical mental powers, he’d start reciting the line from the book in their hands.
“Woah,” said one of the girls holding the book.
But that was not all. Schaffer managed to escape from a straitjacket, guess random items completely blindfolded and without touching or seeing them beforehand, and bend metal forks like they were putty.
Schaffer, though impressive, was only one of about 11 magicians wowing the crowds. Illusionists from all over Utah and even from states beyond converged at the festival to share their love of all things magical.
“I love making people have a better day,” Schaffer said of why he would travel from Ogden to share his talents completely for free. “I love giving people a sense of wonder, to make the impossible possible. It takes you back to when you were a kid.”
The festival was the first of its kind in Utah, due to the efforts of Brian South and Jason Carling, both magicians themselves. South didn’t perform Wednesday, preferring to work behind the scenes, reveling in the sounds of outbursts of astonished shouts and claps.
“Now that is the sound of magic right there,” South said after a particularly loud round of applause.
Congress is currently working on a bill, House Resolution 642, proposing that magic be officially recognized as a rare and valuable art form. South and Carling wanted to celebrate that through this festival, and show the public the educational and social value of magic.
“Magic is fun, educational, and is also a science. Magicians use scientific principles to fool the eye, or math to make it appear as if we can read people’s minds. It also gets people interacting, thinking logically and forming a better understanding of the world around us,” Carling said.
There are things to improve on next year, but for a first event, the festival was a huge success, sparking embers within the next generation of magicians.
“This is the first time anything’s been done like this in Utah, and we figured if nobody showed up, at least all of us magicians would be able to show each other our new stuff,” Carling said. “But we got a lot more than we thought. The turnout, this has blown us away.”
For more information about upcoming events, visit utahvalleymagicacademy.com.