Bar Crawl USA comes to Asheville with their Wizard Pub Crawl

Bonnie MacAlister
Arts and Features Writer
[email protected]

Photo by: Bonnie MacAlister
Leila Beikmohamadi with her Serverus Snape wand at Banks Ave, drinking their specialty drink “The Killing Curse.”

Wizards and Muggles alike joined forces last Saturday at the Wizard Pub Crawl in downtown Asheville.
 The Wizard Pub Crawl, created by Bar Crawl USA, creates a space of community for fans of both Harry Potter and beer in the Asheville area. Bar Crawl USA hosts events in 17 cities nationwide, with themes ranging from an Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl to Onesie Bar Crawls.
 Co-founder of Bar Crawl USA Andy Zirger said that the success of the Ugly Sweater pPub Crawl in Asheville throughout the last few years would correlate to a successful Wizard Pub Crawl. The ambiance of the city, the mountains and the fall season played a major role as well in the attraction of hosting a Wizard Pub Crawl in Asheville.
 “People think bar crawls need to take place in major cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, etc. When in actuality this has a great downtown area with a mix of breweries, bars and really cool and unique stops,” Zirger said.
 In other cities such as Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, the Wizard Pub Crawl has been a popular event for the niche community of potter heads, the fandom name for people who really like the Harry Potter series. The pub crawl kicks off with a registration party at Wild Wings café on Biltmore Avenue where crawlers can pick up their VIP packages and their wands. From there, participants can follow the maps provided to them and find the bars that are hosting events for the pub crawl. The bars and breweries participating provide specialty drinks for crawlers, including a Butterbeer Shot at Banks Ave and Polyjuice at Claddagh Pub on College Street.
 “If you grew up on Harry Potter you’re probably 25 to 35 years old, so drinking butterbeer with booze in it or taking shots with your house colors is something cool you can connect to if you’ve grown up on the books or watched the movies,” Zirger said. “It allows you to be a kid again, but with maybe a little bit of alcohol.”
 Local Harry Potter fans can find a sense of community at the Wizard Pub Crawl said Zirger. At the crawl, participants can stick to the waves of fellow potter heads going to the seven bars that are hosting events, including a best dressed competition held at Ben’s Tune Up on Hilliard Avenue.
 “It would almost be very difficult to not make new friends, new groups of friends or check out new bars as you go out and keep moving in waves with people for six to seven hours and then ending at one final destination all together,” Zirger said.
 Event Manager Alaina Shapiro said that the people who participate in these pub crawls are always so friendly. The themes are created for people to bond with and encourage a sense of community, whether you’re drinking or not.
 “Just being here in the moment like the people that are attending are really enthused. The costumes all have something in common, so it’s really easy to go up and talk to each other and make new friends,” Shapiro said.
 Event Volunteer Olivia Thornton said that she came to help out because she is a big Harry Potter fan. She calls it a common passion that she shares with others when attending similar events, which only strengthens her sense of community.
 “Every time I do anything Harry Potter related there’s always a very strong community involved with it,” Thornton said.
 Pub crawler Leila Beikmohamadi also came out to the event to find community within the Potter scene from her love of the franchise.
 “Asheville is a very big beer city, lots of bars so there’s lots of options to go have a pub crawl. There’s also lots of quirky, nerdy people who would like Harry Potter,” Beikmohamadi said.
 The Wizard Pub Crawl ended at The One Stop on College Street with an after party and a giveaway. Crawlers had the chance to pick up their house certificates and end the night with a live band performing.
 Bar Crawl USA is hosting their next event in Asheville on Dec 14 for their fourth annual Ugly Sweater Crawl. The third annual Onesie Crawl in Asheville is scheduled for Feb 1. To find more Bar Crawl USA events and to see more photos from the Wizard Pub Crawl, follow their Instagram @BarCrawlUSA.