At the end of October, the Calamitous Carnival came to Pearl Street.
Small rides—a drop tower called The Wronski Faint, a romantic but rusted ferris wheel, a swinging ship with Mary Celeste painted on the hull in faded lettering, a carousel with a variety of anatomically improbable creatures, large spinning cauldrons on a turntable, to name a few—sprung up in a small area of Boulder. The crown jewel, at the end of Pearl Street, was a wooden roller coaster that seemed bigger than the space should allow. The beams creaked and groaned every time the car flew around a bend, and it was hard to say whether it was being held together more by the visible duct tape or by actual magic.
For those who would rather try their hands at games of skill and chance, an arcade alley had sprung up. Fairgoers could cast Aguamenti at targets to make their cardboard hippogriff fly, Banish objects at a bullseye to plunge a winking witch into a dunk tank, and Summon rubber owls in the hopes of getting one with a prize sticker on the bottom. A green-robed wizard was running a shell game (“use your wits to keep track of which cup the moke is hiding under!”), but there were no winners so far. In fact, most of the games had only been won a handful of times. Those lucky few who managed a victory could take their pick of prizes from tacky stuffed animals enchanted to hug you back, to unlabeled vials of mysterious potions, to plimpy hatchlings in bags of water.
The greasy, delicious scent of fried food wafted from stalls selling fried pickles and funnel cakes shaped like dragons. Traditional fair fare like corn dogs and soft pretzels were offered alongside wizarding treats like deep fried cauldron cakes and dancing cheese fries. One booth claimed to sell snallygaster legs, which tasted (more than coincidentally) like turkey legs. At this time of year, the stands selling hot butterbeer and firewhiskey toddies (for adults only, of course) were more crowded than those with lemonade and sno cones.
Other attractions were spread out around the carnival. Face-painters offered animated artwork for an extra Knut. A man dressed in brightly colored silk robes offered tarot, crystal ball, and palmistry readings. The sign outside his purple yurt declared him to be “Hershfield the Quixotic, a REAL SEER!” Another booth promised a glance at THE THING for a fee of one Sickle. Anyone who tried to sneak a look at THE THING without paying the Sickle found that their eyes simply slid past the tent.
For some reason, most of the Muggle shopkeepers in the area decided to close for the carnival days, and most of the Muggle pedestrians seemed to instinctively stay out of the area. Those that made it to the fête might notice some unusual attractions, but chalk the odd clothing and odder denizens down to typical carnie weirdness.
Allegedly for the cultural experience of a wizarding carnival—but most likely because even the staff could appreciate an opportunity for fun when they saw it—a school-sponsored outing was organized for RMI students. Even first and second years were allowed to go to Pearl Street to take advantage of the magical opportunity.
Come one, come all! The carnival has begun.