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The witches of Janesville: Fundraiser popular among local ladies

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AMES, ANN MARIE
October 20, 2012

— Witches in pink hats.

Witches in jeans.

Witches in tutus.

Was that witch a bee?

It was a sight to behold. The Watering Hole on Friday night was wall-to-wall witch hats, each one more glorious than the last. The bar was an explosion of leopard spots, pink tulle, fall leaves, striped tights, rhinestones, spiders and purple velour.

Witch one and witch two bopped around in red suits and blue hair. The bee witch was appropriately striped.

If you could imagine it, a witch likely was wearing it Friday night at the fourth-annual Witch Convention, which has grown from a neighborhood party into a must-not-miss event.

Host witches Darci Feggestad-Coomer and Amy McCann Badertscher, both of Janesville, are as surprised as anyone at the popularity of the event. Each year, the two welcome more and more women to the event that has become an underground sensation.

“Fourth annual” isn’t quite accurate. They skipped a year after outgrowing both women’s homes. About 60 women attended the first event on a stormy fall night five years ago in Feggestad-Coomer’s home. Two years ago, they hosted more than 140, and they expected at least that many Friday night.

As their witchy alter egos, Dotty and Tipsy Cosmo, the hostesses wear the same dresses at each event. Only their hair and accessories change, Feggestad-Coomer said. They glittered in Halloween-themed costume jewelry and fake eyelashes—polka-dotted for Dotty.

Tipsy’s pink witch hat featured a silver martini glass. Dotty’s black hat was trimmed in polka dots, as were her fingernails.

Dotty and Tipsy “only come out one night per year,” Feggestad-Coomer said. “Other than that they stay home and they’re good.”

Guests register at the door and wear nametags with their witch names. It’s a convention, after all. This year’s proceeds from the $10 cover charge will be donated to HealthNet of Rock County, a free clinic that serves people without health insurance or other medical assistance. Next year, the money will be donated to breast cancer research.

The one thing missing from the colorful party?

Men.

The event each year is ladies only.

Feggestad-Coomer was shopping this week when she picked up a pair of shoes and declared they would be great witch shoes. Behind the counter, the clerk started complaining about how she never gets invited to “this witch party these women have every year in Janesville.”

Feggestad-Coomer told the store clerk she should go to the Watering Hole on Friday night.

“She said, ‘But you don’t understand! It’s by invitation only!’” Feggestad-Coomer said. “I said, ‘Girl! You don’t understand. I’m THE witch!’”

It’s not really an invite-only kind of thing, although that reputation seems to have stuck, Feggestad-Coomer said. Women who want to attend next fall should keep their eyes peeled for a new Witch Convention page on Facebook, she said.

They promise to start the page soon to give wanna-be witches enough time to plan.

“It’s just amazing how this has grown and how excited people are to come,” Feggestad-Coomer said. “People seriously take a year to figure out what to wear.”


 

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