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Michigan town transforms itself like magic

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Updated: September 9, 2013 7:38AM



As if by magic, for one week every year the village of Colon, Mich., population of about 1,200, is transformed into an international convention and entertainment center.

Then again, the reason is — magic.

This will be Colon’s 76th annual Magic Get Together, an event which draws a broad spectrum of magicians from top international talent to middle school enthusiasts, plus the curious and those interested in seeing outstanding shows.

For convention participants the sessions include lectures on topics including close-up magic, street busking, ventriloquism and ministers using magic. Need a box to saw your assistant in half? This event has showrooms and demonstrations of props and equipment. To get this unique insider access, you only need to pay the daily or the full convention registration fee, from $70 to $190.

For the rest of us, there are entertaining, magical performances in the evenings, during the day, on the street, and maybe even at the next table in a local restaurant.

“There is a long list of notables in magic who have come through the door at the Get Together. This year that includes Jeff McBride. He’s an internationally acclaimed master magician, based in Las Vegas. He’ll have a master class here and he’ll perform at the Saturday night show,” said BJ Mallen, a Colon-based magician.

There are public shows each night of the convention featuring several different magicians and an entertaining comic magician master of ceremonies. There is also a 1 p.m. Saturday matinee benefit for the Colon Lions Club which features the convention youth competition winner. Also during convention week, there are two daily shows at the Abbott Magic showroom and plant, at 12:30 and 2 p.m. weekdays, and at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“But don’t expect neon lights and the glitz and glamour of Vegas,” Mallen said. “Colon is in a different time zone: the 1950s. Although there are a lot of magic conventions around, most are in conventions halls in larger cities. Since this is a small town, small-town attitudes prevail here, and attitudes are checked at the door.”

For example, the big shows are in the high school gym, which is lined with bleachers and folding chairs. Ticket prices are not Vegas-style either. Evening shows are $20 to $25. Tickets to the Saturday benefit are $8 to $10, and it’s just $5 to see shows at the Abbott showroom.

“I’d suggest that you get here early enough to catch the half hour show at the Abbott showroom, then have something to eat at a local restaurant where you’ll likely see folks wearing convention badges doing some magic at their table — most of us didn’t get enough attention as kids and we’re still trying to make up for it,” quipped Mallen.

Then you can check out the historical magic exhibit at the Colon Historical Museum (open noon to 3 p.m.), or check the “busking experience” calendar and see where to catch some top street performers.

On Thursday at 2:45 p.m. you can join in the tour of “final acts” at Colon’s Lakeside Cemetery and see where Harry Blackstone, who is credited with bringing magic to Colon, and other magic notables are buried.

“And if you haven’t had enough magic and entertainment, be sure to go to the VFW after the evening shows. It gets a little raucous there.” Mallen chuckled and added, “Colon has night life — four nights a year.”

For more details on the Magic Get Together or to order show tickets, go to www.magicgettogether.com or call Abbott Magic at (269) 432-3235.



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