Contact Name: Ron Carnell
Organization: IBM Ring 386
Phone Number: 269-503-5128
Web Site:
31 Flavors of Magic festival returns to Colon

The village of Colon hosts full day of live entertainment

COLON: Colon’s fourth annual 31 Flavors of Magic festival on Saturday, April 14, will include a special hour-long show called High Risk Magic to commemorate a world-famous magician who unexpectedly died on stage in 1918, almost exactly one hundred years ago.

Chung Ling Soo may well have been history’s greatest magician because, for almost two decades, he convinced the world he was Chinese.

He wasn’t.

His real name was Billy Robinson (1861-1918), an American of Scottish descent. As Chung Ling Soo, Robinson never spoke on stage and always used an interpreter when speaking to the many journalists who interviewed him. However, that all changed in 1918 when an assistant fired a gun at him during a trick and a mechanical malfunction resulted in a very real bullet being fired into Robinson’s lung.

“Oh my God,” Robinson said in perfect English, as he fell to the ground. “Something’s happened. Lower the curtain.”

He was rushed to the hospital and died the next morning. In the days and weeks that ensued, the public was shocked to learn that this very famous entertainer everyone admired and loved was not really Chinese.

A Deadly Magic Trick

Harry Houdini had warned Robinson that the bullet catch trick was too dangerous to perform, but Robinson didn’t listen. Nor have others. The bullet catch is still being performed today and, in the past hundred years, no fewer than twelve magicians have died as a result.

“High Risk Magic” is just one of more than a dozen “flavors” of magic that will be offered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout Colon on April 14. Most of the shows, including close-up magic, cabaret magic, stage shows, gospel magic, mentalism, street performers, and kids’ shows, will be performed three or even four times during the day, but the one-hour show highlighting the potential dangers of magic will be offered just once, at 1 p.m.

“It’s not the kind of magic anyone wants to attempt more than once,” explained organizer Ron Carnell. Carnell went on to explain that multiple magicians would perform during High Risk Magic, each showcasing their own unique perspective on danger.

“However, in honor of Chung Ling Soo, no one will attempt to catch a bullet.”

31 Flavors of Magic

31 Flavors of Magic is a unique spring festival that turns the entire village of Colon (all two or three blocks of it) into a Midway of Magic, with each location and storefront hosting its own diverse taste of magic and mystery. All of the restaurants, all of the bars, all three magic shops, the library, the grange and more will be participating venues. Visitors can enjoy the many different “flavors” of magic simply by walking out one door and into another.

The event is hosted by Colon’s local magic club, the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 386. Carnell said the name of the event is appropriate because there are so many different kinds of magic available throughout the festival.

“Magic is a performance art just like music,” explained Carnell, “And it’s every bit as diverse as music, too. One of our goals is to expose people to as many different facets of our art form as we can. Of course our primary goal is to make sure everyone has fun.”

According to Carnell, there will be thirty-three shows offered throughout the day, plus walk-around magic at several restaurants, performed by eighteen different entertainers. Nineteen if you count Einstein, the 22 pound Flemish giant rabbit who will be reading minds at one of the twelve different venues. Many of the performers have appeared on PBS, ESPN, David Letterman, the Statler Brothers Show, Arsenio Hall, as well as many local television and radio programs.

Linda Rehmeyer lives in Colon and said she attended an earlier festival with two friends. “We had a lot of fun,” added Rehmeyer. Martha Graham posted on Facebook to say, “All the magicians were awesome! Everyone that I saw was having a great time.” Tim Granger of Coldwater brought seven kids to the event in 2016 and reported, “We’re having an excellent time. The kids love it. So, yea, it’s been a great day.” Perhaps the most fun comment came from Tim Carlson, a magician from Las Vegas now living in Bay City. Carlson said, “A friend of mine asked me how the 31 Flavors of Colon was… I almost wet myself.”

The Magic Capital of the World

31 Flavors of Magic is just one of the many magic events taking place every year in Colon. The small village is widely recognized throughout America and Europe as the Magic Capital of the World, an appellation dating back more than eighty years.

It all started in the midst of the Roaring Twenties when already world-famous stage magician Harry Blackstone bought property on Sturgeon Lake where he spent his summers for many years. Blackstone was one of the most famous magicians of his era, on a par with Houdini or Thurston, and like a magnet drew many other famous entertainers to the area. His son, Harry Blackstone Jr., was raised in Colon and, thanks to television, eventually became even more famous than his father.

Colon’s reputation as a magic Mecca was further cemented when Percy Abbott visited Blackstone in 1927, married a local girl soon after, and eventually founded Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company in 1933. Abbott’s quickly became the largest and most predominant supplier of magic in the world. In 1934 Abbott sponsored the first Magic Get-together.More than eighty years later, the Get-Together in August is still the cornerstone of the Colon year, drawing magicians from all over the world.

Today, there are three magic shops in little Colon, which is more brick and mortar magic shops than you’ll find in most states. Many local business, like Illusions Hair Care, a dance studio names Magic Moves, and Magic City Hardware, have adopted the magic theme. In the local cemetery there are more magicians buried, some world famous, some not so much, than in any other cemetery in the world. Embedded sporadically in the downtown sidewalks are 16-by-16-inch bronze stars comprising Colon’s Magic Walk of Fame and celebrating famous magicians who have had ties to the village. The high school athletic teams are known as the Magi and are usually accompanied on field or court by a six-foot rabbit mascot named Hare E. Blackstone. Colon clearly takes its long history of magic very seriously.

WHAT: 31 Flavors of Magic all-day festival.

WHEN: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 14.

WHERE: Various locations throughout Colon.

COST: Early Registration tickets are $5 for children, $10 for adults and $30 for a family pack. Tickets the day of the event are $8 for kids, $15 for adults and $35 for a family pack.

INFO: For a show schedule, a map of locations and to purchase Early Registration tickets, go to For more information, call (269) 432-4017.



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2018 Press Release Text File

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Chung Ling Soo’s poster advertising the bullet catch that eventually killed him.

Harry Houdini and Chung Ling Soo

The only known video of Chung Ling Soo